Independent NSW MLC Justin Field is calling for the NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, to halt the referral of the Narrabri Gas Project following compelling evidence given today in a budget estimates inquiry by the NSW Minister for Environment and Energy, Matt Kean, where he stated that all recommendations contained in the Chief Scientist’s Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in New South Wales must be implemented in full before the drilling for gas should be allowed.
The Minister’s statement follows last week’s scathing Parliamentary inquiry report that found that 14 of 16 recommendations from the Chief Scientist have not been implemented in full, with several recommendations completely ignored. Minister Kean is responsible for the NSW Environment Protection Authority that is the lead regulator for Coal Seam Gas in NSW.
Evidence given today by Minister Kean in the Energy and Environment budget estimates inquiry:
“The Chief Scientist has done that report and they’ve given a number of recommendations to give the community confidence that if coal seam gas drilling were to occur that the appropriate safeguards would be in place for our environment. There were a number of recommendations, my view is that the government should implement all those recommendations before granting the license to allow any drilling for coal seam gas anywhere.
“Those recommendations need to be implemented before we allow any drilling in nsw.
“What I’m concerned about is that all the safeguards are in place before we start drilling.
Mr Field said “It is telling that even the Minister for Environment says that the Narrabri Gas Project cannot go ahead until the Government fills the gaping holes in their Gas Plan.
“Critical recommendations around assessing cumulative risks, ensuring landholders have access to appropriate insurance against long-term risks and establishing an expert standing advisory body have not been implemented at all.
“The Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, must not refer the Narrabri Gas Project to the Independent Planning Commission until the Government responds to the Parliamentary Committee’s findings and proves to the community that all the recommendations of the Chief Scientist have been fulfilled.
“There are a number of other significant issues with the Narrabri Gas Project that should rule it out including that it will be some of the most expensive gas in Australia and can’t bring down energy prices, but at the very least the project assessment must be paused given the failure of the NSW Gas Plan to address critical risks to agricultural land and water and carbon emissions,” Mr Field said.