Illawarra catchments not protected from 'fracking', CSG opponents say

Illawarra water catchment areas will not be protected from "fracking" under the state government's finalised coal seam gas reforms, CSG opponents have warned.

Yesterday, the government announced exclusion zones and other safeguards to protect homes and key agricultural lands from CSG projects - effectively protecting 5.2 million hectares in the state.

Though Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore said she welcomed the exclusion zones - including 13,000 hectares of future residential land in the Illawarra - it did nothing to protect the future of the region's water catchment areas.

"The exclusion zones are a win for the campaign and for the people of NSW but they're not enough to protect [all] land and water," Ms Moore said.

"It is an enormous oversight that while the government has been talking about land of strategic importance, it never defined a drinking catchment in that way."

Despite the current freeze on CSG development in the drinking water catchment, Ms Moore said it was the "perfect opportunity" for the government to fulfil a pre-election promise to ban CSG in catchment areas.

She also criticised the "gateway" process - identified by the government as a safeguard for 30,000 hectares of valuable Illawarra farming lands - which she said did not have the "teeth" to block CSG development.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed the bans on new CSG activity within two kilometres of zoned residential areas, safeguarding about 187,000 hectares of residential land in the Illawarra and South Coast.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said yesterday that the reforms struck the right balance for communities and industry.

"Today marks a significant milestone in this government's commitment to balance the energy needs of the state and the need to support our vital agricultural industry," Mr Stoner said.

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