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Coal Seam Gas

Rob Oakeshott's coal seam gas press releases
2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010
Water Trigger - Gloucester BioRegion - Hunter Valley health


1 March 2012 - SCIENCE, and not mining royalties, will determine the future of coal-seam gas and open cut coal mining in the Gloucester basin after the federal government today identified the valley as a priority region for scientific study.

Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott says the grassroots community campaign which urged the government to include Gloucester on the bioregional priority list has been won.

Today’s announcement, he said, comes at a crucial time as Gloucester Resources Limited applies to operate an open cut mine just a few kilometres from town.

“This has been an intense campaign over a substantial period of time to get the Commonwealth involved in what essentially has been a NSW Government planning matter,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The community had lost faith in the NSW approvals process so the best way to restore that faith was to seek independent, scientific advice on the potential risks to our water supply.

“Having secured a national agreement, and the creation of an expert scientific committee on CSG, the next step was to get priority status for Gloucester so that the community’s questions about possible ground and surface water contamination can be thoroughly investigated.

“It was critical to get Gloucester on the list, not only because of increasing mining company interest in the region but because the basin is part of the Manning catchment and impacts on 50,000 water users downstream,” he said.

As a result of Mr Oakeshott and New England MP Tony Windsor’s negotiations on the mining tax last November, the Commonwealth committed $150 million over four years to support the work of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee.

A further $50 million will be provided to those states which use the advice of the committee in assessing CSG and coal mining applications.

“This is a sensible, practical approach to CSG assessments, where unbiased research addresses the key scientific questions about the relationship between CSG and water, free of influence from stakeholders and interest groups,” Mr Oakeshott said.



16 February 2012 - THE coal-seam gas concerns of Manning and Gloucester residents have been raised directly with the Prime Minister of Australia and referred to the recently established Interim Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining.

Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott hand-delivered a comprehensive letter from the Manning Alliance to the Prime Minister this week, which outlined the potential threat from coal-seam gas (CSG) mining to the environment, water catchments and food production.

Mr Oakeshott said the Prime Minister understood the local community’s concerns about the potential impacts of CSG and coal mining, and had referred his request for the catchment to be identified as a research priority area to the Expert Scientific Committee.

“The scientific committee is undertaking a scoping study to determine priority areas for regional water assessment, and our catchment is now part of that review,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Hopefully we will know in a couple of months if we’ve secured research priority status, which would result in an evidence-based scientific report on any possible threat to our waterways and groundwater.”

Meanwhile, Mr Oakeshott has welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision to sign up to the new strengthened regulation of coal-seam gas and coal mining developments, negotiated by Mr Oakeshott and New England Independent MP Tony Windsor.

“The state MPs representing our region, Stephen Bromhead and Leslie Williams, must convince the NSW Government to follow Queensland’s lead and sign up to the National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“By doing so, the NSW Government will have access to the independent scientific panel and its science-based research, as well as significant incentive payments from the Commonwealth if it takes the committee’s advice into account in their assessment and approvals decisions.

“It is important that Mid-North Coast communities find out the facts on coal-seam gas and open cut mining.

“This is a transparent, evidence-based approach to the consideration and regulation of the coal-seam gas industry, and will go a long way to restoring the community’s faith in the state-based approvals process,” Mr Oakeshott said.


23 January 2012 - THE federal government has been asked to identify the Manning Valley as a priority region for scientific study into the impact of coal-seam gas mining on the environment.

Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott, who with fellow Independent Tony Windsor secured tighter control of coal-seam gas mining last November, has welcomed the appointment of an Interim Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining.

The committee’s first task will be to identify priority areas for scientific study so that decisions on coal-seam gas projects are based on independent, objective, scientific evidence.

Mr Oakeshott has written to federal Environment Minister Tony Burke asking for priority status to be given to the Manning Valley and the Gloucester Basin.

“There is significant community concern about the potential for coal-seam gas wells to contaminate underground water, creeks and rivers throughout the MidCoast Water and Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“AGL’s 330 coal-seam gas wells in the Gloucester Valley were approved by the state government without any consultation with the local water supply authority, MidCoast Water, or with 50,000 downstream water users in the Manning who rely on the catchment for clean drinking water.

“The Interim Committee’s role is to commission ‘no regrets’, independent, unbiased research that addresses key scientific questions about the impact of coal-seam gas mining on water and to make those findings public.

“Only then can the community be confident that all of the questions about possible contamination and pollution have been thoroughly addressed, without any influence from stakeholders or interest groups,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The appointment of an interim committee is an early opportunity to have Gloucester and the Manning considered as a priority area for this long overdue scientific assessment.”

The interim committee members are:

• Chairman Craig Simmons, Professor of Hydrogeology at Flinders University and Director of National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training;

• Professor John Langford, a Fellow, Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering, and a Fellow, Institution of Engineers, Australia;

• Ms Jane Coram, a groundwater expert at Geoscience Australia and member of the Expert Panel on Coal Seam Gas

• Associate Professor David Laurence who has a PhD in Mining Engineering and is the inaugural Director of the Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices;

• Professor Chris Moran, the Director of Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland; and

• Emeritus Professor Peter G Flood, a geologist with 44 years’ experience in basin studies and a member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

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