In a statement, a NSW Farmers spokesman said the organisation ‘is extremely disappointed with the NSW government’s decision to identify the Liverpool Plains as appropriate for gas exploration.’
President James Jackson said NSW Farmers supports the use of gas as an energy source.
“However, we are dismayed at the trade-offs being made by government in selecting large areas of highly productive agricultural as areas for future gas supply.
“This approach picks winners and losers,” Mr Jackson said.
“NSW Farmers does welcome the removal of a number of existing PELS and the certainty that exploration will not proceed in the Western Division. This will provide those businesses clarity and an ability to invest in their businesses and regional communities.”
“However, many land owners who are still subject to exploration and future gas extraction are dismayed at the threats to their vital ground water supplies.
“This will also affect their ability to plan and invest for the future and undermine succession planning.”
“For our members in these areas, the government’s promise to protect the prime agricultural land and water of the Liverpool Plains and promote regional growth rings hollow.
“Agriculture continues to be the strongest performing industry in the regions. It should be supported. Finite prime agricultural land and water must be protected. Three months ago the government cancelled Shenhua’s exploration license. Today, NSW agriculture is again under threat.
“At the time of the Shenhua decision, the Deputy Premier clearly stated that ‘It means there is no mining here on the Liverpool Plains. It’s the end of this saga! Full stop.’ Our members thought they had some certainty, 90 days on that certainty has been taken from them.
“The Liverpool Plains is a key food bowl with some of best the soils in the world. The fragile and interconnected nature of its groundwater systems is the main reason why more coal mines have not been supported in these regions. This reason reinforces why it is a really bad idea to proceed with CSG development.
“NSW Farmers does not support the Narrabri gas project, and so it goes without saying that we don’t support the expansion of gas exploration to expand the footprint of this ill-conceived project.”
Mr Jackson said the value of prime agricultural land and water was not considered effectively in this decision.
“The role of the Agriculture Commissioner was introduced to make sure that agriculture was a key part of these decision-making processes. This statement was an opportunity for the Commissioner’s role to make a difference and protect agricultural land and water. This has not occurred.”To order photos from this page click here