HOURS after conditional approval was given for a coal seam gas project, Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott has hit out.
He claims community concern over coal-seam gas developments has taken a back seat to political stunts by the federal and NSW governments.
Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, 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.
He said the 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.”