The Sydney Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 7.
* * *
“Brad Hazzard, minister for planning and infrastructure, is stepping up the state government’s support for coal seam gas approvals”, said Pip Hinman, a Socialist Alliance candidate for Wali (north) ward in Marrickville council.
Marrickville is one of two local councils that cover the St Peters’ site where Dart Energy had intended to drill for coal seam gas until community opposition brought the plan to a standstill.
Hinman said: “The NSW government announced on September 6 that it is establishing the Housing and Infrastructure Delivery Office — a new unit within planning and infrastructure which will be charged with fast tracking ‘resource issues’ — including coal and coal seam gas.”
Hazzard said the new unit will move from an “over regulated system” to a “simple, strategic and more flexible system”. He specifically nominated coal and coal seam gas approvals as “resource issues” that need to be made “more flexible”.
Hinman said: “This means that the government is ignoring urban and rural communities who have made it clear that they want more, not less, scrutiny of the regulations regarding resource extraction.”
A huge rally outside NSW parliament house on May 1 — spearheaded by rural communities — made it clear that farmers objected to miners being able to walk on to their properties to start exploration for coal seam gas. They are also very worried about the impact of coal seam gas mining on the aquifers and food bowls.
“Residents of St Peters’ only found out about Dart Energy’s permission to drill for coal seam gas after the approvals had been given, and then only by chance,” said Hinman. “A community campaign over two years, supported by Marrickville council, forced Dart Energy to abandon its plans in St Peters.
“But Dart can sell its lease on to another miner, or mine in another area. The state government has still not replied to residents about this or whether it has renewed Dart Energy’s licence for the Sydney basin.
“Hazzard’s annoucement makes it clear that councillors have to take a stand on coal seam gas mining and unite to fight the pro-CSG push.”