news.com.au - 17.8.2011
RURAL independent MP Tony Windsor says the federal government should be given greater powers to veto coal seam gas projects if they have the potential to damage water resources.
He plans to introduce legislation in parliament next Monday that seeks to better protect “sensitive areas”, such as prime agricultural land or flood plains, from the risks of exploration.
Mr Windsor said it was time to slow down the coal seam gas mining process, an issue which has increasingly become a source of antagonism between farmers and coal companies.
All the information currently in hand about the process was a “red light – beware of what we do here”, he told ABC Television yesterday.
“The elephant in the room is we’re allowing these activities to start to proceed on some of these lands without knowing what the long-term implications are. If you don’t know the scientific realities of the relationship between coal seam gas and groundwater and the mixing of aquifers, maybe you shouldn’t go there in the first place.”
His private member’s bill would broaden the Commonwealth’s scope to intervene by adding water as a “trigger mechanism”.
“One of the trigger mechanisms, for instance, where 300 conditions were applied to a coal seam gas application in Queensland … and 300, if that doesn’t say there’s something wrong with the original process, God knows what does … that was made on the basis of threatened species.
“So what this would do would broaden that in relation to water – it’s a risk assessment.”
“This is a very serious issue,” he said. “It’s time we did something.”