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Councillors savage CSG policy

Lismore councillors have voted to ask the State Government to revoke all coal seam gas licences in the Lismore local government area and point out the level of opposition to CSG within the community.
Lismore councillors have voted to ask the State Government to revoke all coal seam gas licences in the Lismore local government area and point out the level of opposition to CSG within the community. David Nielsen

LISMORE deputy mayor Simon Clough has savaged the NSW Government's coal seam gas policy in leading a successful vote at last night's council meeting to ask the state government to revoke all CSG licenses in Lismore's LGA.

Cr Clough detailed a string of criticisms about the government's Strategic Regional Land Use policy on CSG mining, including its failure to ban CSG in any area other than national parks, and its general lack of regulatory power and enforcement measures.

These include a gateway process approval process for CSG mining in which development applications cannot not be refused, only approved, or approved with conditions, and an aquifer policy with no legislative 'teeth'.

"This is not a policy - it's an open slather for the miners," said Cr Clough. "I think we have to - at every point - stand up and be counted on this issue. ... This is absolutely applicable to our area and we need protection from it."

"The (policy) will not excuse any of our area from CSG mining… not even water catchments are exempt from CSG mining - even those less than a kilometre away from the Wilson's River source," Cr Clough said, referring to the (now-capped) CSG drill at Howards Grass, 2km from Lismore's CBD.

Cr Clough also contrasted the potential impact of the policy to the recent removal of Environmental zones in Lismore's LGA by the NSW Government, which formed 1.5% of the LGA.

"CSG is not about 1.5% of our local natural area - it's about the whole of our local natural area," he said.

However, the vote was not unanimous, with councillors Graham Meineke, Gianpiero Battista, newcomer Mathew Scheibel voting against for an 8-3 result.

Cr Meineke said council should defer sending a letter until a more comprehensive plan specifically for the Northern Rivers was released by the government in 18 months.

Cr Meineke and Scheibel also voted against the earlier mayoral minute by Jenny Dowell to formally notify local state and Federal MPs and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard of the results of Lismore's CSG poll, which returned an overwhelming 87% of votes against coal seam gas in Lismore.

The council will now write to NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, Brad Hazzard, Page MP Janelle Saffin, Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, Lismore MP Thomas George, and Ballina MP and Local Government Minister Don Page, to request the State Government "revoke all (CSG) licenses for exploration and production from the Lismore City Local Government Area".

Topics:  coal seam gas lismore city council simon clough