Labor's plan to protect the Pilliga forest from CSG

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A Foley Labor Government will protect the Pilliga Forest from Coal Seam Gas. 

In doing so Labor will ensure that we protect a crucial recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin. As the lifeblood of Australia’s outback, we cannot afford to jeopardise it.

A NSW Labor Government will permanently ban coal seam gas in Pilliga East State Forest, Bibblewindi State Forest, Jacks Creek State Forest and the Pilliga East State Conservation Area.

NSW Labor will not cancel any exploration or assessment licences. However, consistent with Labor’s CSG Plan for the state it will not permit the current exploration or assessment licences to convert to production licences in the Pilliga forests and it will not renew the current licences when they expire.

The Baird Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the company to fast track the Pilliga coal seam gas proposal, the biggest proposed CSG project in NSW.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader Luke Foley:
“Communities in our state’s north-west have made their opposition to coal seam gas in the Pilliga clear.

“The risks CSG poses to the natural assets of the Pilliga, particularly the underground water storages, are unacceptable.

“Labor believes in a prosperous future for NSW and one where we consider the health of our communities and our environment.”

Background
The Pilliga forests are crucial for sustaining water pressure to the Great Artesian Basin. Modelling based on CSIRO and agency data shows that in NSW, the highest recharge areas (higher than 30 mm/year) are almost entirely contained within the east Pilliga area. These four forests sit on this key area for our water security.

The Federal Government’s Environmental Assessments team in 2014 stated:

Given the sensitivity of water resources and features within the area (of note: the Namoi River, Namoi Alluvium, and Pilliga sandstone); and acknowledging the Pilliga region (in general) is recognised as an important recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin, the potential for high level impacts to a water resource presents a real possibility.

The Pilliga is an important biodiversity hotspot. In a sea of cleared land, the Pilliga forest can be seen from space. Many species rely on this oasis.

A NSW Labor Government will impose a state wide moratorium on CSG activity.

A Labor Government will not lift the moratorium unless the industry is proven to be safe, when each of the issues identified by the Chief Scientist is resolved and we have a world class legislative and regulatory system in place to ensure our natural assets and our people are protected.