Opponents of a controversial coal seam gas proposal want it halted after an inquiry found the NSW government only fully implemented two of 16 recommendations from a five-year-old CSG review.
Independent MP Justin Field says he’s pushing to bring forward debate on a coal seam gas moratorium bill following the release of the inquiry’s report on Thursday.
An upper house committee probed the status of 16 recommendations made by NSW’s then-chief scientist and engineer in a 2014 review of coal seam gas activities.
The state government on Thursday argued 15 had or were being implemented.
But the most recent report suggests only two recommendations have been fully implemented with six partially implemented and eight not implemented at all.
The parliamentary inquiry found enhanced insurance coverage envisaged by the chief scientist wasn’t available and the conclusion was “these risks are uninsurable”.
The 16 recommendations included that the government consider insurance and environmental risk coverage of the industry and that it ensure clear and open communication on CSG.
It 2014 review also flagged a standing CSG expert advisory body and a centralised risk management tool for extractive industries.
An upper house committee in 2015 recommended the chief scientist and engineer’s final report be fully implemented before any expansion of the CSG industry.
The latest report comes as the government considers a Narrabri coal seam gas project proposed by oil and gas giant Santos.
Lock the Gate Alliance says regional communities near the Narrabri project couldn’t have confidence in the government or the industry given Thursday’s findings.
“The failure of the Berejiklian government to implement the chief scientist’s recommendations is deeply troubling at a time when Santos is seeking approval to drill 850 gas wells right through a recharge zone of the Great Artesian Basin,” spokeswoman Georgina Woods said.
“We’re calling for an immediate halt to any further assessment of the Narrabri CSG project in light of this scathing report.”
Mr Field wants his coal seam gas moratorium bill debated in the March sitting of parliament.
He said it was clear the regulatory system meant to protect groundwater and farmers was full of holes.
“The government has had five years to fix this and they’ve failed,” Mr Field said in a statement.
“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.”
But Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean says 15 of the recommendations have or are being implemented.
He said work continued in relation to a recommendation around cost recovery for gas regulatory activities.
“The government supported all of the recommendations of the chief scientist and engineer and developed the NSW gas plan to outline how it would deliver the support,” Mr Kean said in a statement.