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NSW’s CSG inquiry finds most recommendations ignored

Unusually, the report did not carry a dissenting view despite the presence of two Liberals and one National MP on the eight-member panel.

However, a spokesman for Matt Kean, the Energy and Environment Minister, said the government would “not be taking advice from the Shooters, Greens and Labor on this important issue”.

“The government supported all of the recommendations of the Chief Scientist, and Engineer and developed the NSW Gas Plan to outline how it would deliver the support,” he said, adding that all 15 of the 16 recommendations “have or are being implemented” with work continuing on cost recovery.

Ms Woods said the report – which found six of the 16 recommendation were implemented in part – meant there remained “big holes” in the government’s so-called world’s best practice regulation of CSG even as it finalised its assessment of the 850-well gasfield proposed by Santos for Narrabri, in north-western NSW.

Coal seam gas projects have drawn protests across NSW leading the government to cancel many exploration licences.

Coal seam gas projects have drawn protests across NSW leading the government to cancel many exploration licences.Credit:Dean Sewell

“We don’t see how they can proceed with the Narrabri gas plan,” she said.

Justin Field, an independent MP and panel member, said he would bring forward debate on a CSG moratorium after the inquiry’s “scathing” findings.

“The Nationals have hung their hat on the NSW Gas Plan as a way to protect farmers and regional NSW, but it’s been shown to be full of holes,” he said.

The two recommendations fully implemented were one that ensures CSG personnel were subject to “ongoing mandatory training and certification” and the government develop a plan to manage “legacy matters associated with CSG”.

A spokesman for the gas industry lobby APPEA said the industry supported the recommendations, and the NSW government had “largely completed this process”.

“[I]t must be recognised NSW already has a robust regulatory framework in place – and any gas development proposal is thoroughly assessed,” he said, citing the almost three-year review process on the Narrabri gas project as an example.

“The industry has demonstrated we can operate safely, sustainably and in collaboration with landholders and regional communities, and we must be able to get to work.”

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