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Coal Seam Gas

The federal representative for Lynne, Independent Rob Oakeshott spoke out against fracking coal seam gas and coal mining in Gloucester.

He can be contacted on twitter:

Rob Oakeshott's Parliamentary speeches are here.

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


19 February 2013 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott says the NSW Government appears to have come into line with Queensland in banning CSG activity near residential areas, but it’s too little too late for Gloucester.
“The Premier could have and should have moved months ago, when the Commonwealth asked NSW to develop meaningful protocols on CSG regulation,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Last night’s decision looks to be about western Sydney, and not about science, water or a better planning system. If anything, it confirms planning is not about objective processes, but subjective politics.

“If NSW is serious about recognising the impacts of CSG activity on communities within a 2km boundary, then they are acknowledging there are issues that affect people. So why do people in regional communities, such as Gloucester and Taree, not matter to the NSW Government?

“As a senior Cabinet Minister and the state MP for Gloucester, Mr Souris in particular has an opportunity to explain the details of the latest changes and whether Gloucester is in or out.

“If Gloucester is out, then he needs to explain why.

“The bottom line is that water, which is key to this issue, doesn’t recognise 2km exclusion zones, nor does groundwater follow lines on maps.

“If we’re serious about protecting our waterways and aquifers, we’ll do the research before we drill to find out exactly what the risks are,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“And that applies in locations with one person or 100,000 people.”


February 2013 - THE NSW Government has the power to stop the Rocky Hill coal mine today, says Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott.

“Earlier this week, the NSW Government announced CSG activities would be off-limits within two kilometres of suburbia,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“If the NSW Government is serious about limiting the impact of mining activities on communities, it simply has to apply its new policy position to coal mines.

“The state government has not yet approved the Rocky Hill open-cut coal mine, so it has exactly the same status as the AGL project in western Sydney that prompted the government to act this week.

“If it’s good enough for the NSW Government to move to protect western Sydney, it’s good enough for them to protect Gloucester.

“Gloucester Resources Limited’s (GRL) Rocky Hill coal mine will be less than a kilometre from homes, is overwhelmingly opposed by the Gloucester community and unanimously opposed by Gloucester councillors. And, clearly, the site is not compatible with the local council’s zoning, E3 Scenic Protection.”

Mr Oakeshott said the NSW Government and National Party Minister George Souris had an opportunity to do for Gloucester what the former state Labor government failed to do – put community and farming interests ahead of mining interests.

The Independent MP has written to the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, seeking an exclusion ban on open-cut coal mines and on CSG projects already approved in the Gloucester basin.



11 February 2013 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott says community concern over coal-seam gas developments has taken a back seat to political stunts by the federal and NSW governments.

The federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, today granted conditional approval for the Gloucester CSG-methane project; a decision Mr Oakeshott said would resonate for all the wrong reasons in his community.

“If the science was in, if we knew for certain CSG drilling represented no threat to our drinking water or to the environment, then so be it. But the research hasn’t been done; our bioregional study has not been done and the jury is most definitely out on what the potential impacts of CSG extraction could be,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Today’s decision was about leaked letters between the federal and state Ministers; not about what is best for Gloucester and the Manning Valley.

“I’m gutted by the decision, and I know many good people in community-based groups who have worked with me on this issue for more than two years will also be gutted.”

Mr Oakeshott said jurisdiction was clearly an impediment to enhancing the Commonwealth’s powers in planning matters regulated by the states, including the approvals process for CSG and coal-mining projects.

He added, however, the fight was far from over and that he would keep looking for a legal solution that could not be challenged by the states.

“If we can’t resolve this through legislation, I fear what could happen on the ground in communities such as Gloucester when drilling rigs roll out across the landscape,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“This is a community that has a very strong connection to the Gloucester landscape. It also relies on clean soil to export quality food and relies on clean water to drink.

“These are fundamental issues to any rural community and worth defending.”



15 February 2013 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott is backing Gloucester Shire councillors and their criticism of an approvals process that gave AGL’s coal-seam gas development the green light last week.
“I absolutely back the six councillors who signed an open letter questioning the process,” Mr Oakeshott said today.

The open letter is highly critical of the “party political spat” occurring between the federal and state governments over NSW’s draft protocols, which the Commonwealth has deemed inadequate.

The protocols are a requirement of the National Partnership Agreement on CSG and coal mining, negotiated by Mr Oakeshott and fellow Independent Tony Windsor in late 2011.

“We now have a process in place that elevates science and research in the CSG debate, but at the very first hurdle - the bunfight over NSW protocols - the Commonwealth pre-empts the science and grants conditional approval,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“So far, the community has endured a questionable approvals process, which started with the former state Labor government while it was in caretaker mode, and a raft of broken promises by the current state government.

“In opposition, Coalition MPs promised to protect the land and water from CSG and coal developments. They even wore the T-shirts to prove it. But last year, in government, these same MPs lifted a state-wide ban on fracking and the granting of exploration licences.

“The Premier of NSW Barry O’Farrell said as opposition leader ‘no ifs, no buts, a guarantee’ to ban mining in any water catchment area, and we all know how that’s panned out.

“No wonder communities have lost faith in due process and are asking questions about vested interests pervading our democratic space.”

Mr Oakeshott, who last week expressed his anger over the Gloucester approval to the Prime Minister and Environment Minister, said he would not back away from the matter.

He said he and fellow MP Tony Windsor were “deadly serious” about CSG impacts on food production, water quality and public health and would pursue the government over the matter until common sense prevailed.

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