Rob Oakeshott's coal seam gas press releases
2012 - 2011 -
Water Trigger -
Gloucester BioRegion - Hunter Valley health
2012 Coal Seam Gas
CSG BRINGS CANBERRA TO GLOUCESTER
7 December 2012 - A GROUP of Gloucester residents concerned about coal-seam
gas projects in the basin were given unique access to two high-ranking
public servants from the Commonwealth’s Environment Department on Thursday.
The meeting, organised by Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott, was attended by
the head of Water Science Operations, Dr Paul Salmond, and the head of the
Commonwealth’s Environmental Assessment and Compliance Division, Kate
Also attending were representatives of the Barrington, Gloucester,
Stroud Preservation Alliance, Gloucester Groundswell, Gloucester Residents
in Partnership, and Gloucester Shire Council’s Director of Planning
“This was a really good opportunity to bring high-ranking advisers and
assessment officers from Canberra to Gloucester so they could see for
themselves what’s at risk, and to answer questions about the new Independent
Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining Projects,” Mr
“We had two-and-a-half hours of full and frank discussion on the triggers
for Commonwealth involvement, the role of the committee, the science, and
the very real concerns of many Gloucester residents about the potential
cumulative impact of CSG projects on the water catchment and on food
“I want to thank everyone for their time, and for their questions,” said Mr
Oakeshott, who along with Independent MP Tony Windsor, was responsible for
the legislation that has put science at the heart of the assessment process.
NSW ENERGY MINISTER OWES GLOUCESTER AN APOLOGY
1 November 2012 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott says NSW Energy Minister
Chris Hartcher should apologise for calling community delegates at a
coal-seam gas conference in Gloucester socialists.
“Community get-togethers such as last weekend’s Groundswell Conference are
happening because farmers, land owners and regional communities fear they no
longer have a voice on CSG and coal mining developments,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“They feel their legitimate concerns about the unknown effects of CSG
drilling on water and food production are being ignored in the state’s rush
for mining royalties.
“I was among the 130 people who attended the Gloucester conference.
“I attended because my community has real concerns about the potential
unintended consequences of CSG drilling and coal mining on the Gloucester
basin and the headwaters of the Manning.
“The Mayor of Gloucester was present, as was the president of the NSW
Farmers Association and lawyers from the Environmental Defender’s Office of
NSW – hardly the sort of people you could label as socialists.”
Mr Oakeshott said the NSW Government was developing a track record of
labelling anyone who disagreed with its CSG and coal mining policies as
socialists or greenies.
“We’ve seen extraordinary attacks on farmers, environmentalists, families
and community action groups for no other reason than they oppose
inappropriate CSG and coal mining developments.
“Instead of listening to the broad concerns of 10,000 people at a CSG rally
outside the NSW Parliament in May, NSW Government Ministers called the
“This was a protest attended by farmers, and addressed by the president of
the CWA. It was the first time the CWA had marched on Sydney in its 90-year
“Our own Manning Alliance, which led the Taree campaign against CSG and
Transgrid’s power line plans, was also on the receiving end of a Nationals’
attack in September.
“And now, 130 delegates at Gloucester last weekend are apparently part of
some socialist agenda to, in the Minister’s words, ‘destroy the economy’.
“Instead of accusing locals of being part of a socialist conspiracy, the NSW
Government should be listening to the community.
“There is a significant level of broad community concern right across NSW
about the unknown risks attached to CSG drilling.
“If this is the Minister’s idea of community engagement just two years after
returning to government, I can only imagine what we are likely to be accused
of by a second or third-term government.
“The Minister should be acknowledging our community’s concerns on water and
food production, and adopting the precautionary principal where CSG and coal
mining activity is proposed on agricultural land or in water catchments.”
Mr Oakeshott said he also had concerns for the future of the Environmental
Defender’s Office of NSW.
“This is an organisation that has represented the public interest against
big developers and mining companies for three decades,” he said.
“Now, it is facing a funding crisis because the NSW Government has cut its
budget and is considering further cuts.
“The EDO has an important community role on the Mid-North Coast. It has
represented the interests of mums and dads, pensioners and entire
communities in court cases against developments such as the diesel power
plant at Herons Creek and CSG drilling near Gloucester.
“Sometimes we’ve won, sometimes we’ve lost, but we’ve always had the option
of going to the EDO and asking its lawyers to fight our cause in court.
“I ask the NSW Government to stop the name-calling, to address the aquifer
and agriculture concerns of communities such as Gloucester and Taree and to
properly fund the office that represents the public’s interest, not vested
interests, in environmental law cases.”
LAND AND ENVIRONMENT COURT DECISION DOES NOT CHANGE
28 August 2012 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott has urged State MPs on
the Mid-North Coast to consider the residual impact of NSW’s Part 3A
planning laws following yesterday’s court ruling on a 330-well coal seam gas
project in the Gloucester valley.
“The state MPs were elected on a platform of removing the contentious Part
3A planning law, which gave the Planning Minister sole discretion over any
site deemed ‘state significant’,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“However, yesterday’s Land and Environment Court ruling has revealed not a
lot has changed since the NSW elections for communities such as Gloucester.
“The court rejected Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance’s
challenge to AGL’s exploration licence, which was approved under Part 3A in
the dying days of the former NSW Labor Government.
“Even though the court recognised coal seam gas exploration was contentious,
Justice Rachel Pepper said the merits, or otherwise, of the use of coal seam
gas were irrelevant to the issue before the court. Her task was to judge
only the lawfulness of the approval.
“The ruling proves only that the NSW law has been followed; not that it was
a good law.
“It is this issue of the strength of the state law that I invite state MPs
to reflect on and to fix,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“While I helped bring in a science-based review of the potential impacts of
these sorts of projects under Commonwealth laws, the state’s planning laws
and regulations are issues that only our local state MPs can influence.”
Mr Oakeshott said the final steps to establish the scientific panel were
underway with the new Commonwealth laws he and Tony Windsor negotiated about
to pass through the Senate. An interim committee was established in January
to advise on applications lodged before the final committee can be
“These laws need to get through the Senate, and then the states need to
listen to the science experts,” he said.
“I am watching the decision-making process through the scientific panel very
closely, to make sure it is being taken seriously by the state planning
authorities, but I will recommend further changes to the law if it is not,”
Mr Oakeshott said.
SCIENCE TAKES ITS PLACE IN THE ASSESSMENT OF CSG AND COAL
30 May 2012 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott says his electorate has
helped bring balance to the energy debate with the passage last night of
legislation that puts science, not vested interests, at the centre of
coal-seam gas assessments.
An independent scientific committee on coal-seam gas (CSG) and coal mining
was one of three agreements reached between Mr Oakeshott, New England MP
Tony Windsor and the government during negotiations on the mining tax last
year. Last night, the legislation supporting the establishment of the
committee passed the house with the support of the Government and the
During debate on the legislation, Mr Oakeshott told the parliament his
community had recognised the flaws in the state-based approvals process two
years ago but could now be satisfied their campaign had helped deliver an
important victory, not only to the Mid-North Coast but to communities right
across the country.
“I thank the many organisations in my area who have been involved —the likes
of the Manning Alliance, the Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation
Alliance, the Manning Clean Water Action Group, the Gloucester Residents in
Partnership and the Camden Haven Anti-fracking Group,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“I also thank the many individuals not aligned with any particular
organisation who have had signs on their fences, who have written to me, who
have attended public meetings to voice their concerns – ordinary people who
do not normally protest or engage in politics who have done an extraordinary
job in making sure the message on protecting productive lands and water was
heard loud and clear across the country.
“I support this bill because it makes a substantial contribution to better
outcomes in natural resource management—productive land protection and
establishing science at the centre of planning processes for land use,” Mr
“This bill makes sure planning decisions on CSG and coal mines are not
influenced by vested interests, not based on politics, and not made by state
governments desperate for mining royalties.
“This bill is all about science - the best possible science, and I encourage
the NSW Government, which is struggling to develop its own land use policy,
to see the worth of this, to use it for their own benefit and to make it the
heart of their public policy on this difficult but important issue,” Mr
AGL PROJECT ON HOLD
04 May 2012 - AGL’s Gloucester Gas Project is on hold with the Federal
Environment Minister Tony Burke delaying a decision on the development for
up to 10 months.
Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott said the Minister had extended the
moratorium on the AGL approval process after the company sought changes to
A decision on the future of stage one of the 300 coal-seam gas well project
was expected in late March after the Minister extended the original
assessment period by six months.
The project already has NSW Government approval but also requires federal
approval because of its potential impact on water resources.
“Coal-seam gas mining is an issue that is moving rapidly within state and
federal public policy development,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“The delay in the approval process is a sensible move while ever the future
policy direction is being worked on.”
The decision to delay the AGL project was made on the same day Gloucester
residents took part in a protest outside AGL headquarters in North Sydney
and were among the 8000 farmers, environmentalists and concerned residents
from throughout regional NSW who protested outside NSW Parliament House.
It was also the day the NSW Upper House called for an even broader and more
extensive moratorium on coal-seam gas mining across the entire state.
OAKESHOTT WANTS PRIORITY ASSESSMENT FOR GLOUCESTER
20 January 2012 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott has called for a
scientific study on the impact of coal-seam gas mining on the Gloucester
Valley’s water resources.
Mr Oakeshott, who with New England MP Tony Windsor, secured tighter
regulation of coal-seam gas mining during negotiations last November on the
mining tax, has written to the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke,
requesting priority research status for Gloucester.
“An Interim Expert Scientific Committee on Coal-seam Gas and Coal Mining has
been established, which will provide state and territory governments with
the opportunity to seek advice on coal-seam gas and coal mining developments
in the lead-up to a formal arrangement being agreed to by COAG in February,”
Mr Oakeshott said.
“The interim committee is an early opportunity to have Gloucester considered
a priority area for scientific research, particularly because of the
community’s heightened concerns about the potential impact of mining
activities on local water resources.
“The research, to be commissioned by the interim committee, is ‘no regrets’,
independent, unbiased research that addresses key scientific questions about
the impact of coal-seam gas and coal mining on water.
“If our request is successful, the subsequent research would enable the
committee to provide scientific advice on the AGL project, and the
independent findings, not influenced by stakeholders or interest groups,
would be made public,” Mr Oakeshott said.
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
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
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