PEL445 CSG buyback deadline looms for Nationals
PROMISES by the Nationals to buy North Coast coal seam gas exploration licence PEL445 appear to have come to naught, at least by the official June 30 buyback dead-line.
The pledge was made eight days before the state election in March.
With the Nationals under mounting pressure over CSG, Nationals leader Troy Grant came to Lismore and announced alongside Lismore MP Thomas George the government would block a proposed sale of the licence.
At the time, Mr Grant called on the owners of the PEL to "come to the table and give us the opportunity to buy it back."
It was an appeal that appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Yesterday, Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts would say only that the government would not allow any transfer of ownership of PEL445 - the transfer already "blocked" by the Nationals - until it had "exhausted" potential buyback negotiations with the titleholder.
"The acquisition of PEL 445 ... is contingent on approval of the transfer of title from the Division of Resources and Energy (DRE). To date, no application for a transfer of title has been received," Mr Roberts said.
He said the buyback scheme had resulted in 12 PELs covering almost 3 million hectares being bought back and cancelled, reducing the area covered by PELs from half the state to 11%.
But CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesman Aidan Ricketts said there was "no room to move" on the promise of PEL445.
"It was the issue of the election," he said.
"The people of Lismore were given a very clear message that PEL445 was going to be bought back by the government.
"It can only be considered the most absolute of core promises."