New chief to rule on coal seam gas issues
June 23, 2012
THE state government will appoint a new special commissioner to oversee coal seam gas exploration on agricultural land and will end the royalty exemptions for gas companies as part of a suite of new policies to be announced today.
The Deputy Premier and Nationals leader, Andrew Stoner, whose party has been divided on the issue of coal seam gas, will make the announcement at the opening of the Nationals’ conference in Bowral this morning.
Among the announcements will be the appointment of a new Land and Water Commissioner, who will report to the Director-General of Trade and Investment and will oversee a new process on behalf of affected farmers and land owners.
The commissioner will also oversee the application of new standardised land access agreements for coal seam gas exploration on private land, which will be developed by a working group which will include farmers, irrigators and the gas industry.
The five-year royalty-free honeymoon period for CSG companies will also be dropped, and the government will establish new programs to encourage gas companies to feed profits back in to communities.
“Under the proposed framework, coal seam gas producers may elect to contribute funding into a regional community fund. The NSW government will refund $1 for every $2 committed by industry, up to 10 per cent of the royalty take,” said Mr Stoner.
”The NSW government is seeking enhanced industry co-operation to ensure resource communities adequately share in the economic and social benefits of developing the coal seam gas industry.”
The government is yet to finalise its Strategic Regional Land Use plan on CSG .
In April, the Nationals’ submission on draft plan called for a more rigorous planning process that puts the onus on mining companies to prove their activities won’t harm farmland.