Activists want CSG licences plugged

Moves are underway to renew the two coal seam gas exploration leases which have been the cause of ongoing controversy across the Illawarra.

But the expiry of Petroleum Exploration Leases 444 and 442 has been met with calls by environmentalists that they should not be renewed.

The coal seam gas (CSG) leases are held by a joint venture of Apex Energy and Ormil Energy.

PEL 442 covers an area from Clifton in the north to Dapto in the south, and includes most suburbs of Wollongong.

PEL 444 is the more controversial lease, covering an area around Helensburgh, Darkes Forest and Stanwell Park. The exploration includes water catchment "special areas" adjacent to water bodies.

With the exploration licences expired, Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore said the NSW Government should withdraw them.

"This is an opportunity to stop, do the research and make decisions about CSG based on facts," she said.

"There is now more than enough evidence that CSG mining brings risks.

"Licences should never have been issued in the drinking water catchment. Licences should never have been issued before the facts on CSG were in."

The Apex/Ormil joint venture did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the leases.

Energy Minister Chris Hartcher would make a final decision on the future of the leases after receiving advice from his department, a spokeswoman said.

She said applications for renewal on the leases were pending.

"The NSW Government has not granted or renewed one single exploration licence since the election as it works to implement new controls regulating CSG exploration," she said.

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