Dharawal – Under threat from coal seam gas operation before it is even opened

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The new Dharawal National Park could be under threat before it has even opened to the public - because the O’Farrell Government has failed to deliver on its election promise to establish no go areas for Coal Seam Gas.

"I’m concerned Dharawal will be nothing more than a Clayton’s national park," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"The O’Farrell Government has breached its election promise to establish no go areas for Coal Seam Gas, with its draft strategic regional land use plan providing no protection to areas of high conservation value.

"This means there will be no changes to the two Apex Energy Petroleum Exploration Licences (PEL) immediately adjoining Dharawal to the east - PEL 444 and PEL 442 - which have 16 exploratory wells currently planned.

"It is likely that there would end up being several hundred wells if it went to production and there is a high potential for offsite impacts on the new national park, including on groundwater and other water reserves.

"Creating a national park that straddles Coal Seam Gas activities makes a mockery of the O’Farrell Government’s pre election commitment to protect high conservation and prime agricultural land."

Mr Foley added that the creation of Dharawal National Park failed to add one new hectare of land to the State's reserve system.

"The Dharawal National Park does not add one new hectare of land to the state's reserve system, which has actually shrunk in size during the O'Farrell Government's first year in office," Mr Foley said.

"Dharawal was already a protected place, reserved as a state conservation area under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

"In the O'Farrell Government's first year they have added a paltry 4,552 hectares to the reserve system, while reversing Labor legislation that would have allowed 5,199 hectares of cypress forest to become a national park on 1 January 2012.

"The O’Farrell Government has managed to send us backwards - with their net contribution to the growth of the national parks estate minus 647 hectares.

"In 16 years, Labor in government created three million hectares of new national parks, building one of the most diverse and comprehensive park systems in the world.

"Mr O'Farrell bangs on about Dharawal endlessly because his government has no plans for establishing new national parks anywhere else in NSW.

"Today's umpteenth announcement is a smokescreen - the O'Farrell Government has no vision for nature conservation and no plans for establishing any new national parks other than at Dharawal - which is already at risk because of the O’Farrell Government’s broken election promise on Coal Seam Gas."