The Baird government’s revamped coal seam gas policy has hit its first hurdle, as a Nationals MP calls for parts of his electorate to be quarantined from the controversial industry.
Debate has reignited over CSG’s future after the NSW government released its much-anticipated package of reforms on Thursday, which includes tougher regulations.
Under the plan, the government will decide which areas can be opened up for exploration. National parks and urban areas are protected.
But the plan could allow CSG projects to proceed in sensitive water catchment areas.
A few Nationals MPs are understood to be nervous about the political fallout from the announcement before the March election, and the first to speak out is Kevin Anderson.
He has called for an “urgent” meeting with Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts to push for parts of his Tamworth electorate to be declared no-go zones for CSG projects.
“I believe that prime agricultural land on the Liverpool Plains is an area that should be quarantined from any CSG activity, and I will be pushing hard to make that happen,” he said in a statement.
Mr Anderson is worried the area’s fertile farmland could be damaged by CSG activity.
He also wants the government to “immediately approach” companies that hold petroleum exploration licences in the black soil plains to hand back sections of their titles.
His comments come after fellow Nationals MP Don Page used his valedictory speech, delivered the day before the government’s CSG announcement, to call for his Ballina electorate to remain “CSG-free”.
The government delayed its CSG policy announcement for 24 hours this week so concerned MPs could be briefed on the reforms.
A company that had its CSG drilling licence suspended this year has criticised the government’s plans.
“The new policy announcement does not sufficiently clarify the business and regulatory environment for the gas industry in NSW,” Metgasco said in a statement.
“Business needs a degree of certainty to justify expenditure.”