Strong voter support for halting CSG activity

Three-quarters of NSW voters oppose coal seam gas exploration on agricultural land, the latest polling reveals, as the government draws more fire over its handling of the resource.

A Fairfax Media/Nielsen poll shows fewer than one in five support allowing the process, with 17 per cent favouring it.

The poll revealed opposition is as strong among Coalition voters (75 per cent) as Labor voters (73 per cent).

MORE: Why are people so fired up about CSG?

Following the release of the poll results Opposition Leader John Robertson renewed his call for the O'Farrell government to suspend all CSG exploration licences and cease issuing extraction licences until a water-tight regulatory framework is in place based on independent scientific research and conclusive evidence.

"With 75 per cent of people confirming they have grave concerns about CSG mining, Barry O'Farrell should immediately halt all CSG operations across NSW," he said.

Mr Robertson said community action had played a significant role in achieving protection for some residential areas, but that the poll confirms the community wants the rest of NSW protected from CSG mining as well.

However, Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher said the government had been listening and had put in place the toughest CSG controls anywhere in Australia.

"When we came to office, there was little if any regulation of coal seam gas activity in NSW," Mr Hartcher said.

Actions taken, he said, included putting in place two-kilometre exclusion zones for residential areas; making the Environment Protection Authority the lead regulator of environmental and health impacts of CSG activities in NSW and asking the Chief Scientist to conduct a full review of all CSG activities in NSW with a focus on water catchments.

On Tuesday night at the Gerringong Town Hall, Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham and Stop-CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore will take part in a public meeting on the issue.

The meeting comes after the NSW Government last month renewed Leichhardt Resources exploration licence (PEL469).

The licence covers most of the electorate of Kiama MP Gareth Ward, who said the previous Labor government issued CSG licences like someone throwing confetti.

Mr Ward said the difficulties CSG companies were facing in the region were a strong indication that government policies were starting to work.

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