Greens bid to give farmers CSG veto arrives at Lismore

Greens Senator Larissa Waters.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

AUSTRALIAN Greens Senator Larissa Waters will be making a pitstop in Lismore today alongside her NSW counterpart Jeremy Buckingham.

The Greens are pushing for legislation to allow farmers the right to say no to coal-seam gas development on their land.

Ms Waters and Mr Buckingham will be in Lismore at 1pm on the corner of Magellan and Carrington Streets.

The legislation is set to be debated in both the Australian and NSW Parliaments over the coming fortnight.

The visit comes as the NSW Department of Trade and Investment this week initiated prosecution action against gas multinational Santos for breaches of the Petroleum Onshore Act in 2010-11.

The alleged breaches occurred at a CSG operation in the Pilliga Forest in the state's central north, then owned and operated by a separate company Eastern Star Gas.

Eastern Star Gas, later acquired by Santos in November 2011, allegedly failed to report a spill of untreated water from its main holding pond nor lodge mandatory environmental management reports.

In a media release, Santos said the Pilliga facilities were shut down soon after the acquisition as they were found to not meet Santos' standards, and it had committed some $17 million to remediation works in the Pilliga operations.

NSW Labor shadow environment minister Luke Foley claimed Energy Minister Chris Hartcher ignored these historical breaches in granting Santos a continued licence to operate in the Pilliga last year.

The Santos proposal includes 1100 wells, and 1000 km of road and pipeline, according to Mr Foley.

Last year Mr Hartcher defended the licence renewal in Parliament, saying the Eastern Star breaches were "not ongoing issues.... therefore they do not need to be addressed in relation to the renewal..."

The Pilliga Forest is a semi-arid woodland covering some 3000 sq km, Australia's largest temperate woodland and home to 300 native animal species and 900 plant species.

Underneath the forest lies one of Australia's biggest onshore gas deposits, on its own enough to cover NSW's current gas needs for the next 50 years.

Topics:  csg mining

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