Grazing most suitable industry to co-exist with CSG – report

GRAZING is the most suitable agricultural industry to co-exist with CSG, according to a new independent report.

The report analysed current gas production, concentrating on Queensland and NSW. It covered coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas.

It was prepared for the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors by former CSIRO Land and Water division chief, Dr John Williams.

"Extensive grazing appears to be one form of agriculture that may be better than others at co-existing with CSG production," Dr Williams stated in the report.

It examined the impacts on natural resources, biodiversity, surface and groundwater resources, greenhouse gas emissions and the social and economic impacts of gas industries.

In examining the CSG industry in Queensland, the first state to get legislation approved to safeguard its cropping land, Dr Williams noted irrigation and cropping agriculture would not be suitable to co-exist with CSG mining.

While acknowledging CSG had brought $60 billion in new Queensland projects, Dr Williams said governments needed to manage future gas projects carefully.

"Gas exploration and production will need greatly increased attention to its impacts on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity," he said.

"Current approaches are fragmented and appear inadequate."

Dr Williams said the potential for the gas industry to have cumulative, long-lasting effects on landscapes and ecosystems must be taken into account in considering future approvals.

He called for gas development approval processes to be updated to consider the lasting impact of gas industries on the landscape.

"It would be folly to risk our essential natural resources and the ecosystem services they are capable of delivering over the long term in the interest of securing a relatively short-term energy resource - gas," he said.

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