Councillors in the Orange local council area of New South Wales will vote on a motion to ban all forms of coal seam gas mining or exploration.
The motion was proposed by Cr Jeff Whitton, chair of the Sustainable Development Committee, and of the Strategic Planning and Land Use Community Committee
The motion will go to the vote by Orange City councillors on the evening of Tuesday 15 April.
However, local press has pointed out that even if the motion is passed the decisions of local council can be overridden by State Parliament.
Cr Whitton said that although there have been no CSG-related activities proposed in the Orange area, it is important for the local council to clearly state their position on the matter.
“My opinion… is that we should be making Orange a CSG free zone,” Cr Whitton said.
“I only have jurisdiction in our local council area, but it’s about putting in place mechanisms for how the council will deal with an application, which may or may not happen in the future.
“Council should have a position on this particular subject before any applications come in the future.
Cr Whitton said that despite the powers of State Parliament to overturn local council policy, it would strengthen the council’s position in any disputes that arise in the future.
“If you don’t have a position in council on a particular matter, especially to do with development, then it makes it very difficult, should something arise in the next few weeks or years and it was to be rejected by council, then you really don’t have any position to stand up with if they take you to the Land and Environment Court or the minerals court.
“There are other higher government statutory bodies to deal with matters like this.”
Cr Whitton said he proposed the motion due to ongoing queries from the local community and his own reading of literature about the extraction of coal seam gas.
“This has come about from people coming to me and asking what council’s position is on CSG, whether we’re for or against, and I suppose my personal opinion… is that the science is pretty much against it.
The councillor was unwilling to indicate the level of support from other members of coucil, but suggested that some members may be unwilling to make a decision on the issue.
“They will certainly weigh up the pros and cons for our community, but they could make argument that this is a NSW state government issue, and it’s not something that’s going to be happening in Orange, and all of those cops outs, that’s the easy way out of making a decision,” Whitton said.
“My argument will be let’s talk about Orange, not NSW government… our role in council is to make those guys aware of what our position is on any matter.
“I also want Centroc to consider putting that in place for all of the Centroc local government areas.”
Centroc is a voluntary collaboration of local councils in central NSW.
The proposed motion, if passed by Centroc, would declare the local government areas of Bathurst, Blaney, Borrowa, Cabbone, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Luithgow, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Upper Lachlan, Weddin and Young, and Central Tablelands Country, all to be coal seam gas free zones.