NSW Will Freeze CSG Licences For Another Year, Until After The State Election

A protest sign at a CSG site Bentley, northern NSW, which led to a community blockade and the NSW government suspending the licence due to ‘insufficient’ community consultation. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty

The NSW Government has added another 12-month freeze on NSW Petroleum Exploration Licence Applications (PELAs) and PSPAs – a desktop or geoscientific survey until September 2015.

The month follows on from the 6-month freeze on CSG exploration licences announced back in March, due to expire tomorrow, and takes the controversial rural issue past the 2015 state election.

NSW resources and energy Anthony Roberts announced the decision today saying the extended timeframe will allow the Office of Coal Seam Gas to complete its “comprehensive examination” of current PELAs. He also increased the application fee from $1,000 to $50,0000.

The former ALP government approved dozens of exploration licences in its dying days before the 2011 election and CSG continues to cause tension in rural communities across NSW.

The Minister said the government wanted to further assess the application process for petroleum titles.

“The former Labor Government handed out 39 Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) in a careless and clumsy fashion with little oversight,” Roberts said.

He said the NSW Government has refused 10 PELAs since March.

“A number of companies have been asked to provide further information around environment, exploration and production reporting, community consultation and work programs,” he said. “Petroleum Assessment Leases (PAL) will be available to companies with existing PELs or those who applied before the freeze.”

Meanwhile, NSW Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane is due to give the Government her final report into the state’s CSG industry shortly.

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