MP Janelle Saffin.
MP Janelle Saffin.

Saffin welcomes CSG move

THE FEDERAL Government's move to ensure decisions about coal seam gas projects are based on the most rigorous scientific evidence available, is welcomed, says Page MP Janelle Saffin.

Ms Saffin said from Canberra yesterday she had made many representations to federal ministers and the prime minister on coal seam gas, about what could be done at the federal level to address community concerns.

"I had asked the Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, to explore the nature and extent of his power vis-à-vis the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) and the Federal Water Act," she said.

"The Government recognises that the community can only have confidence if all environmental approvals and licensing decisions are made on the basis of transparent, objective scientific evidence.

"The Government has today announced a new scientific framework to better understand the impact of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources.

"This includes a new independent expert scientific committee to be established under the EPBC Act."

Ms Saffin said the committee would commission and fund water resource assessments for priority regions and the scientific committee would determine the priority regions.

"I shall be ensuring the Northern Rivers is classified as such," she said.

"It will also oversee research and provide scientific advice to the government on the impacts of coal seam gas projects and large coal mining developments on water resources.

"The Commonwealth Government will also establish a new national partnership agreement with the states through COAG, agreeing the commonwealth and states have to take into account the advice of the committee in their decisions.

"The Government will provide $50 million in incentive payments to the states to deliver this outcome.

"These measures mean any applications for coal seam gas projects will be subject to rigorous and independent scientific assessment before states can grant any approval.

"As the National Water Commission has warned 'the consequences of not managing the water risk and uncertainties associated with the economic benefits of coal seam gas are substantial'.

"The issue of coal seam gas mining is complex because mining and water management are mainly the responsibility of the states.

"The measures announced today will inform better environmental regulation of coal seam gas impacts on ground water, without imposing additional Commonwealth regulation."

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