Tighter controls for mining and coal seam gas drilling

Energy Matters0

Tighter controls for mining and coal seam gas drilling

Ben Cubby, Environment Editor

March 6, 2012 – 1:26PM

New controls ... a scientific panel will assess mining development applications.

New controls … a scientific panel will assess mining development applications. Photo: Jim Rice

Mining and coal seam gas drilling across farmland, wineries and horse studs will face tighter controls under a series of plans unveiled by the NSW government today.

Developments must now pass through a “gateway” process, under which an independent scientific panel will assess the impact of a project before a company can lodge its development application.

The plan includes detailed maps of productive agricultural land in the Hunter Valley and the New England tablelands. Mining proposals in these areas will trigger examination by the scientific panel.

The plan also includes an “aquifer interference policy”, which will govern water extraction from farming areas, and require independent scientific scrutiny.

The composition of the scientific panel is yet to be announced.

The policy covers areas within two kilometres of prime farmland.

No area of the state is out of bounds for mining, though the gateway process is likely to make gaining approvals for some mines more difficult.

The existing moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, during coal seam gas drilling, will continue until April, when the government receives a scientific report on the impacts of the practice.

A draft code of practice for coal seam gas drilling was also released today. It requires companies to reimburse landholders for any legal costs arising from disputes over land access.

Most elements of the draft code of practice are already standard for coal seam gas companies.

The draft policy was released at midday today by a trio of government ministers – Regional Infrastructure Minister Andrew Stoner, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and Resources Minister Chris Hartcher.

The policy, based on a key election pledge made by the state government, is the result of negotiations between farmers, the mining and coal seam gas industries and environment groups.

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Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/tighter-controls-for-mining-and-coal-seam-gas-drilling-20120306-1uh40.html#ixzz1oKLfgeop

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