The City of Sydney's submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into coal seam gas is now online.
We believe that coal seam gas exploration licences should be put on hold until their environmental impacts have been assessed and the community fully consulted.
Gas is an important transition fuel for a low-carbon future but the Inquiry must consider whether NSW needs to develop its coal seam gas reserves, given Australia's significant liquid natural gas reserves.
Gas can help us transition to a greener future but that can't happen unless environmental safeguards are in place. Gas is not greener if we destroy our farmlands or water supply to get there.
We do not support the exploration of coal seam gas in built-up areas and passed a resolution of Council in December 2010 that coal seam gas extraction poses unacceptable risks to the environment.
Our submission states that sensitive areas should be protected from mining, including important agricultural land, aquifers, National Parks, and Sydney and town catchment areas. It should also be restricted in areas in and around urban and regional centres, in a manner consistent with restrictions introduced to Queensland in August 2011.
Our submission also notes a National Water Commission position paper, which shows how aquifers and groundwater systems could be significantly impacted by the process.
The projected growth of the use of gas should not come at the expense of our communities or environment. So I have asked the Government to identify iconic nature areas where mining and gas expansions should not occur.
We welcome the moratorium on the use of 'fraccing' and BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes), but more is needed and we are calling for transparent planning, approvals and regulatory processes.