CSG groundswell builds in the Illawarra

Illawarra politicians from both sides have stepped up the campaign to stop coal seam gas exploration in the region's drinking water catchments.

Wollongong councillors voted this week to send a strong message to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure about its plans to prohibit coal seam gas (CSG) development within two kilometres of residential areas.

Councillors said the state government should also rule out the controversial mining exploration in future residential areas in West Dapto as well as in the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment Area.

Additionally, Greens councillor George Takacs urged the council to demand the government give serious consideration to prohibiting any new coal, oil and gas exploration permits because of dire predictions about global warming.

In a heated speech, Cr Takacs pointed out the growing concerns of "conservative" organisations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund about the world's remaining "carbon budget".

"The whole debate about coal seam gas completely misses the bloody point - we are talking about the security of our water and agriculture [but] our agriculture had no security in a planet that warms by another four degrees," he said.

"There's only one course of action if we're serious, and that is to not issue any further exploration permits."

While Liberal councillor Leigh Colacino's views differed from Cr Takacs, he said he was also very passionate about stopping gas exploration in drinking water catchments.

"I think the idea of extraction from within the Wollongong catchment areas is an abhorrent thought," he said.

"We're talking about gas extraction vents in our neighbourhood and in our water collection lands ... and we're talking about a substance that no one single human being can do without - clean drinking water."

Independent councillor Greg Petty voted against making the recommendations to the government.

Also this week, Kiama MP Gareth Ward announced he would meet with the mayors of six Illawarra regional councils to talk about their CSG concerns.

He said his government had inherited laws from the previous government that did not allow them to end existing licences or prevent licence renewal when a breach of the rules had not occurred.

However, he said he was keen to work with the councils and listen to their concerns.

 A human sign at the Stop CSG Illawarra protest at Bulli Showground in August last year.

A human sign at the Stop CSG Illawarra protest at Bulli Showground in August last year.

"I have serious concerns about CSG extraction from water catchments and believe the NSW government must consider calls from farmers and local government to strengthen regulatory controls," he said.


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