Coal seam gas exploration is set to be a major election issue at the 2023 NSW State Election following the release of the NSW Government’s “Future of Gas” Statement which will allow exploration for coal seam gas to restart across one of the state’s key agricultural regions.
Independent NSW MP Justin Field said, “John Barilaro and the Nationals couldn’t be clearer in this document. They have decided to back Santos and the gas industry and sell out farming communities across the North West.
“The maps released today show that it is Santos who is pulling the gas policy strings in NSW with exploration licences surrounding their proposed Narrabri Gas Project at the centre of the new ‘plan’.
“The Government may have walked away from proposed gas exploration in far Western NSW and will significantly reduce exploration areas across the state, but that will be little comfort to farmers around Gunnedah, Mullaley, Wee Waa, Bellata and Spring Ridge who now face the prospect of gas companies demanding access to their land to recommence exploration.
“Communities across North West NSW are right to be furious at this Government with this decision set to leave the threat of coal seam gas hanging over their heads and their businesses for years to come. The land use conflict between gas and agriculture will undoubtedly continue.
“It is an absurd situation when the Berejiklian Government, just months after spending hundreds of millions to buy out the Shenhua Watermark coal mine project, will leave this same area and its valuable water resources exposed to future coal seam gas exploration and development.
“This statement also keeps the door open to the controversial Hunter Queensland Gas Pipeline and Western Slopes Pipelines which continue to be vigorously opposed by local farmers who face the loss of cropping land and farming disruptions should the pipeline proceed.
“Like in the 2015 and 2019 State elections, coal seam gas and its threat to land, water and the climate are set to be an election issue in 2023 with the Nationals already having lost seats to the Greens and Shooters in part over the issue of coal seam gas.
“Clearly all of Kevin Anderson and David Layzell’s protests against the so-called “zombie PELs” in the Tamworth and Upper Hunter electorates had little influence over John Barilaro’s deal with Santos. The reality is that if people want a gas-field free future they need to vote the Nationals last at the next state election.