Labor Opposition to ban coal seam gas activities and operations in core water catchment areas

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The NSW Opposition has today announced it would ban all coal seam gas activity and operations - including exploration activity - in the Sydney Catchment Authority Special Areas to protect our precious water resources.

The NSW Opposition will take the policy to the 2015 State election.

Currently in NSW there are defined ‘Special Areas’ within the Sydney water catchment through which our water supply directly flows and these areas are off limits to the public. People are banned from even walking through the ‘Special Areas’ and face hefty penalties if they do.

However, there are currently coal seam gas licences that cover these areas.

The new policy builds on Labor’s existing position that we suspend all Coal Seam Gas exploration licenses and cease issuing extraction licenses until the science is in and we can progress with certainty. We must be sure the risks to our aquifers, food security and biodiversity can be managed.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said these new measures were essential to protect our precious drinking water catchments.

“It makes no sense that we ban people from walking through special areas in our water catchments because of the risks posed to water quality, but then allow coal seam gas mining in those same protected areas,” Mr Robertson said.

“Under our policy, there would be certain places that we should never allow coal seam gas extraction. The core of our drinking water catchments are foremost amongst them.”

“The risks posed to our State’s drinking water resources are simply far too great to ignore.”

Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley said Labor will also investigate banning CSG drilling and extraction in defined core drinking water catchment areas across the state – in order to protect the water quality of communities of the Central Coast, Hunter and North Coast from inappropriate CSG development.

“Barry O’Farrell promised the community before he was elected that there would not be mining in water catchments – ‘no ifs, no buts’ - under his Government,” Mr Foley said.

“Yet in office the Premier has refused to act to protect core water catchment areas from the impacts of CSG activities.

“Labor has already said we should press the pause button on the industry until there is conclusive scientific evidence that there are no adverse environmental risks from CSG activities. This policy ensures that we immediately protect our drinking water from these activities.”