Tougher rules on the fracking process used to extract coal seam gas will be introduced in New South Wales.
The state Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher announced the changes yesterday, in anticipation of the end to the 60 day moratorium on coal and coal seam gas (CSG) tomorrow.
The ban will continue on just fracking until the end of the year and banned the use of toxic chemicals in the CSG process.
The decisions have been welcomed by Hunter-based opponents of coal seam exploration and mining, but say more needs to be done.
"The extension of the moratorium is a good thing but their approach is a bit piecemeal," Wollombi-based Lock The Gate representative Sean Gough said.
"There are a whole range of issues related to this industry that have not been properly addressed."
The first court challenge against the CSG industry will begin today, with the Environmental Defenders Office representing the Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud preservation Alliance.
The case is expected to be a test run for other communities in NSW opposed to CSG.
An inquiry into the industry, chaired by Senator Bill Heffernan, is currently underway in Queensland, with plans to also investigate issues in NSW.
Heffernan told Australian Mining the inquiry seeks to end the “cowboy regulation” currently controlling the industry.
Yesterday the government also introduced tougher restrictions on the use of groundwater, as well as new public consultation guidelines.
"We understand there needs to be a balance between agricultural land and mining and were determined to get that balance right," Hartcher said.
"That is why we will require all new applications for mining or petroleum projects which have the potential to affect agricultural resources or industries to submit an Agriculture Impact Statement."
Opposition groups are adamant that not enough is being done, and tougher requirements are necessary.
"There are major pollution issues related to the extraction and disposal of the chemicals that have been in the ground for thousands of years," he said.
Eralier this month changes were made to the planning and performance reporting criteria for the New South Wales coal and coal seam gas industries