Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Clarence Valley - the area of the Northern Rivers which Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has failed to protect to date

Never one to stand firm on any issue unless it was of direct benefit to himself, NSW Nationals MP for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, unsuccessfully attempts to straddle the fence on the issue of coal seam gas in this The Northern Star article on 2 October 2014:

CLARENCE MP Chris Gulaptis has welcomed an expert's calls for designated gas fields in New South Wales.
The state's chief scientist Professor Mary O'Kane made the claim in her review on the NSW CSG industry.
Mr Gulaptis said coal seam gas drilling areas must be geologically tested.
"It's all about science and fact, and not about emotion," he said.
"The most important thing is the science has to be done first before the coal seam gas extraction is proposed.
"Make sure that your geology and your hydrology is right and then I think everything else will follow."
Mr Gulaptis said there needed to be boundaries where the industry could not operate and agriculture had to be protected.
"There will be some places where it can be carried out, there will be other places where it can't be carried out," he said.
"If it's unconducive to gas extraction then it becomes a problem. Clearly there are some areas where there are some land use conflicts and those areas have to be very closely examined so that neither one is impacted on."

Now when the NSW Coalition Government revisited its mining policies in early 2013 the North Coast Nationals did not insist on comprehensive exclusion zones within the largest part of his electorate, the Clarence Valley, so presumably neither did Chris Gulaptis.

Gulaptis also did not attend the NSW Energy Security Summit on 26 September 2013, which meant that that Metgasco Limited and other coal seam gas miners had a seat at the government summit table but Clarence Valley and Richmond Valley communities did not.

This failure to protect resulted in the drinking water catchments of the Clarence-Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply, upstream of the Nymboida Weir and associated with the Shannon Creek Dam, having no protection against coal seam-tight gas exploration and mining under the NSW Coalition Government’s coal seam gas exclusions zones included in the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy.

The policy he voted for also does not adequately protect Clarence Valley primary production, including the sugarcane industry, under current biophysical strategic agricultural land (BSAL) mapping, nor does it adequately protect the valley’s identified regionally significant farmland or place limits on the loss of prime crop or pasture land.

In a 21 November 2013 submission to the NSW Department of Planning & Infrastructure Clarence Valley Council noted:

It would seem from the actions and outcomes to date that the State Government is not intending to provide protection from CSG activity by way of exclusion of those closely settled rural residential precincts within the Clarence Valley LGA.


Council considers that not considering the drinking water catchments of the Clarence - Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply as specified in point iv above for exclusion from CSG activity is not in the public interest and should be rethought to help guarantee the integrity of the drink water of the region that this Water Supply infrastructure and asset serves.


Whilst the “CSG excluded” areas and areas subject to gateway assessment through BSAL & CIC mapping will enjoy a greater degree of certainty and assessment respectively, uncertainty will remain about the degree of protection and assessment of the larger areas outside of these areas if and when they are to be subject to mining and CSG exploration & production activity.

This is the area of the Northern Rivers which Chris Gulaptis has failed to protect to date:                                                                                                     

Unfortunately for the Clarence Valley, to date NSW Labor also offers little protection under its coal seam and unconventional gas policy either.

No comments: