Mining loopholes for CSG

Rural councils can avoid new coal seam gas laws; a move the Greens say would breed corruption.

The Daily Telegraph reported the draft NSW Environmental Planning Policy, released yesterday, has a loophole that would allow rural councils to approve CSG exploration and override the policy.

Councils could apply to planning minister Brad Hazzard to approve exploration if they wanted to.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said the plan should be valid statewide and exemptions meant poorer councils could approve mining that was harmful to residents.

“Local councils struggling to provide infrastructure and services may be susceptible to industry offers of assistance, voluntary planning agreements, or other incentives in return for the council exempting areas from the SEPP to allow coal seam gas mining,” he said.

Buckingham also said agriculture was still unprotected and farmers could have their land dug up against their wishes.

The NSW state government said in February it was withdrawing its support of the CSG industry, with Premier Barry O’Farrell saying he would ban mining within 2km of residential areas. He had said this made CSG controls the toughest in the country.

Meanwhile Queensland health minister Lawrence Springborg presented a report in Parliament that found no clear link between CSG activities and health concerns.

The report comes as a Western Downs community group in southern Queensland raised health concerns last December linked to nearby CSG fields.

According to the ABC, the Gasfields Community Support group said 26 families in the rural residential estates near Tara, north-west of Toowoomba, reported headaches, rashes and nose bleeds.

The group said it is disappointed with the findings of the report.

Image: Gas Today Australia

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