Greens MLC and mining and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham at the site of a coal-seam gas well at Dobies Bight near Casino.
Greens MLC and mining and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham at the site of a coal-seam gas well at Dobies Bight near Casino. Jerad Williams

Plans to tackle coal gas mining

NEW Greens MLC and mining and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham had the fledgling coal-seam gas industry firmly in his sights yesterday as he toured exploratory gas wells on the Northern Rivers.

The former stonemason-turned councillor from Orange, who pipped Pauline Hanson at the electoral post last month, plans to introduce a Bill into the NSW Upper house calling for a moratorium on all new production licences pending an inquiry.

“This industry really slipped through the cracks; it has not been dealt with properly in terms of NSW legislation and regulation,” he said.

“We think the (current) Act doesn’t identify the industry and regulate it properly, so what we’re saying is there should be a moratorium (on) any more licence approvals, any more production approvals, so we can have a special commission of inquiry and get to the bottom of this industry’s long-term effect on environment and community.

“We cannot have a situation where any industry that has an impact like this can self-regulate.”

Surveying the tiny gas wells – ironically powered by solar panels and supplied with wind-drawn water – Mr Buckingham made it clear the Greens want to stop coal seam-gas exploration and have the investment channelled into carbon-neutral power generation.

“The issue is there’s obviously a massive demand for energy which is driving this development ... but we must move to a zero-carbonsociety so we should be investing in renewable.”

While many proponents see huge potential benefits from the industry for the local economy and jobs, Mr Buckingham is not swayed.

“Yes we do need regional development but its about the type of development you get – we think we should have a massive investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar thermal and much of regional NSW is perfectly situated – it’s clean, it’s green, there’s lots of jobs (without) the uncertainty.”



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