Monday, 2 May 2016
COAL SEAM GAS: NSW Baird Government coming after the Northern Rivers once again with the support of Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis
NSW Nationals MP for Clarence and NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, Chris Gulaptis, has endorsed the Baird Government's North Coast Regional Plan – stating in the foreword in this planning document:
The Draft North Coast Regional Plan is our proposed blueprint for the next 20 years and it is a plan for both the Mid North Coast and the Far North Coast. The draft Plan outlines a vision, goals and actions that focus on a sustainable future for the region as it grows that protects the environment, builds a prosperous community and offers attractive lifestyle choices for residents.
Unfortunately he and the state Liberal-Nationals government of which he is a member see the future of the region as being one in which the gas industry is again a major player.
Excerpts from NSW Coalition Government's 100-page Draft North Coast Regional Plan, March 2016:
Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land on the North Coast was also mapped in 2014 as part of the NSW Government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy. This land is capable of sustaining high levels of production for a variety of agricultural industries due to its high-quality soil and water resources. More than 248,000 hectares of this land has been mapped on the North Coast. The policy requires that any significant mining or coal seam gas proposals on this land have to be scrutinised through the independent Gateway process, before a development application can be lodged….
The North Coast also includes areas of the Clarence-Moreton Basin, which has potential coal seam gas resources that may be able to support the development and growth of new industries and provide economic benefits for the region….
The NSW Department of Industry is mapping coal and coal seam gas resources in the region. Once completed, this information will inform future regional and local planning by providing updated information on the location of resource….
The NSW Government will:….. identify and plan for the infrastructure needs and requirements of the resources and energy sector….
The Gateway process which the Plan mentions was in place from 2012 onwards. A period in which Metgasco Limited's plan to create gasfields and at least one gas production facility on regionally significant farmland (with high fertility soils) in the Northern Rivers was supported by both Coalition state and federal government.
Neither the toothless Gateway process nor the Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel (both parts of the wider Strategic Regional Land Use Policy) appear to have applied the brake to any Metgasco development applications lodged and approved in order to sink coal seam gas test wells and, under Part 3A of the NSW Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 inhibit progress the now defunct West Casino Gas Project.
The Federal Government's 2014 Catalogue of potential resource developments stated:
All developments within the Clarence‑Moreton bioregion are currently at the pre‑environmental impact statement (EIS) stage. However, subject to regulatory approval, the West Casino Gas Project may move towards an EIS within the time frames considered by the bioregional assessment.