The Federal National Party has released the principles that it says will guide its coal seam gas policy in future.
In announcing the principles, federal leader of The Nationals Warren Truss said policies had to address the environmental, community and economic impacts of the industry, while recognising its potential to deliver a new economic boom.
Managed properly, CSG could revitalise parts of regional Australia, Mr Truss said. Managed poorly, it could become an environmental and social disaster.
He said the Nationals had taken a “measured, rational and balanced approach” in developing its policy framework.
The Nationals approach is based on five core principles:
- No coal seam gas development should proceed where it poses a significant impact to the quality of groundwater or surface water systems. It must be absolutely clear that no coal seam gas development should occur unless it is proven safe for the environment.
- Prime agricultural land is an increasingly important natural asset. It must be protected from activities that destroy its capacity to deliver food security – not only for our nation, but for a hungrier world, for generations to come.
- Coal seam gas development must not occur close to existing residential areas. People who have bought a home, with a reasonable expectation of being away from mining operations, must not be thrown into turmoil coal seam gas operations springing up on their doorstep.
- Landowners are entitled to appropriate pecuniary returns sourced by reason of access to their land. Remuneration for landowners should not be limited to compensation.
- The regions that deliver much of the wealth from coal seam gas developments deserve to see a fair share of generated revenues reinvested in their communities. This is an opportunity to grow our nation and encourage a lasting legacy from coal seam gas developments.
The next step will be the launch of a discussion paper to develop the specific policies required to achieve the core principles, Mr Truss said.
He said the Nationals were concerned by an independent push to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and believed the proposed changes were too broad in scope and were likely to result in the imposition of more red tape and bureaucracy on landowners.
It was also important that regional communities were engaged as partners, and had something to gain, in the development of the coal seam gas industry.
“Without winning widespread support from regional communities, coal seam gas development will not occur. The need to earn a social licence is a reality the coal seam gas industry and governments must come to grips with.”