The NSW Government has made controversial new changes to coal seam gas regulation, banning all activity within two kilometres of residential and industry areas.
Fairfax Media reports NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the new rules meant suburbs, country towns, and other urban areas would become “no-go zones for CSG activities”.
“Families in residential areas should not have to worry about their quality of life being affected by the noise, visual impacts and other effects of CSG mining,” he said.
As part of the changes the Environmental Protection Authority will be appointed as the lead regulator for the health and environmental impacts of the state’s industry.
A new Office of Coal Seam Gas Regulation will also be established, and chief scientist and engineer Mary O’Kane will undertake a review of the industry and report on any risks by July.
O’Farrel said the review would “provide an evidence base to support better understanding of the CSG industry in NSW”.
The reforms come as the Australian Workers Union moves to launch a national campaign supporting the CSG industry.
The Australian reports the campaign aims to reduce red tape and regulatory barriers, and has a focus on reserving some gas resources for local use.
“Australia’s vast supplies of gas should be utilised for the use of domestic energy users, with a focus on assisting downstream manufacturers,” a policy document says.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has welcomed the union’s support for the CSG sector, but expressed concerns about reserving gas for local businesses.
“Laws that dictate where and how gas can be sold invariably deter the very investment needed to develop Australia's abundant gas reserves,” APPEA CEO David Byers said.