Oil, gas licences ignite demands for overhaul
THE state must overhaul oil and gas exploration licences as it grapples with rising concerns of farmers over the loss of control of their land and a surging demand for access, environmental groups say.
Even though oil and gas exploration licences covering millions of hectares of land across the state have expired, work has been allowed to continue unhindered with only limited environmental controls, environmentalists said.
”By cancelling some or all exploration licences and going through a more rigorous application process once the government finalises strategic land use objectives, you would end up with a more robust approach,” the chief executive officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Pepe Clarke, said
Under the present process, when exploration licences are granted, there is no requirement for specific environmental issues to be addressed in detail, with no public exhibition or consultation requirements, he said. ”Title renewals are equally problematic, with no clear, objective tests which the minister must apply and no public consultation requirements. There should be a rigorous process introduced to apply before titles are granted with full public transparency.”
An estimated 5.5 million hectares of petroleum exploration titles have expired with no information available on the status of these licences or how they are assessed for renewal.