Mid-Western Regional Council has called on the State Government to provide more protection for landowners, the community and the environment in its draft code of practice for coal seam gas exploration.
Councillors will this week consider a submission on the draft code of practice which is intended to balance the rights and concerns of private land owners with access for coal seam gas explorers.
While the submission states that the government’s attempts to introduce a code of practice should be supported, it raises a number of concerns relating to landowners’ rights and protection of water and land.
Council’s submission calls for stronger measures to ensure all legal expenses incurred by the landholder are paid by the coal seam gas explorer, including the cost to landowners of engaging solicitors to act on their behalf in relation to access negotiations.
Council also wants explorers to be required to provide specific details of all chemicals brought onto a site, as well as safety information sheets, with landholders to have the right to refuse use of any chemicals, since they are ultimately responsible for any chemicals on their land.
Although the draft code of practice refers to Camden as an area where fraccing has not caused damage, Mid-Western Regional Council’s submission calls for an investigation of the effect on local geology and hydrology before fraccing is allowed in other regional areas.
The submission also calls for a mandatory review of environment factors (REF) before exploration begins.
Council’s submission expresses concern about proposals to use saline water, a by-product of exploration, for dust suppression or to inject surplus saline water into an aquifer, as suggested by the draft code. It calls for mandatory treatment of any saline water before it is disposed of appropriately.
“The draft code does not address any other contaminants that may be present in the produced water, such as boron, chlorine, zinc or copper,” general manager Warwick Bennett said in the submission.
“All of these additional contaminants appear to be toxic to natural aquatic systems and there must be considered when determining how waste water will be disposed of.”
Members of local NSW Farmers and CWA branches will join a rally in Sydney tomorrow in protest against the State Government failure to protect agricultural land from mining and coal seam gas exploration