The NSW Government has introduced the toughest regulations in Australia to protect the State's prime agricultural land and our important industries including farming, fisheries, crops, livestock, horse breeding, wine-making and horticulture from any potential impacts of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) activities.
As part of these stringent new regulations, the NSW Government has banned the use of BTEX chemicals (Benzene, Toulene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene) as additives during drilling, banned evaporation ponds for the disposal of produced water and introduced measures to encourage the treatment and beneficial re-use of the water.
The independent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is now the lead regulator of any potential environmental and health impacts of CSG activities in NSW.
The EPA can impose heavy fines of up to $1 million on any company that breaches its Environment Protection Licence. Companies that fail to inform the EPA of a serious incident can be prosecuted and fined up to $2 million.
In 2012, the NSW Government introduced the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy to better manage the potential conflicts arising from the proximity of mining and coal seam gas (CSG) activity to our high quality agricultural land in some parts of the State.
Under the Policy, the NSW Government has introduced safeguards which will protect some five million hectares of residential and strategic agricultural land across the State from the impacts of mining and coal seam gas (CSG) activity.
The Gateway process (effective from 4 October 2013) will add an additional level of scrutiny to new State significant mining and CSG proposals on high quality agricultural land (BSAL) and the Upper Hunter equine and viticulture critical industry clusters (CICs).
Coal seam gas (CSG) exclusion zones will prevent new CSG activity within 2km of residential areas across NSW and the North West and South West Growth Centres in Sydney.
Other proposals which extend this protection to additional farming and residential land are on exhibition until 8 November 2013.
For further information, including Frequently Asked Questions, visit: www.planning.nsw.gov.au/srlup
Other safeguards implemented by the NSW Government include:
NSW Government agencies including the NSW Department of Trade and Investment Office of Coal Seam Gas (OCSG) and the Division of Resources and Energy, NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, the Office of Environment and Heritage and the NSW Office of Water regulate the CSG industry through various Acts and regulations including:
OCSG issues approvals for coal seam gas activities identified by the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991. Where the activities are defined as non State Significant Development under the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979, a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) allows OCSG to determine whether or not the activity requires a higher level of assessment in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). If an EIS is not required, OCSG will recommend either the approval or rejection of the REF submitted by the proponent.
Any CSG activity with unacceptable impacts on the environment and communities of NSW will not be approved by the NSW Government.
To report concerns about CSG activity and the environment, contact the EPA hotline on 131 555 or email email@example.com.