Rural independent MP Tony Windsor will introduce legislation to Federal Parliament on Monday seeking greater protections for prime farmland and water resources from mining developments.
Mr Windsor told ABC Lateline last night he will seek to broaden the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to give the Commonwealth greater powers to scrutinise and override state-approved mining projects.
“I think in certain – what I call sensitive – areas, or prime agricultural areas, or areas where there is ground water, surface water, floodplins, that some of these extractive activities should be viewed with greater scrutiny,” Mr Windsor said.
“…If you don’t know the scientific realities of the relationship between coal seam gas and groundwater and mixing of aquifers, then maybe you shouldn’t go in there in the first place.”
The legislation would require projects to be scrutinised not just for their on-site impacts but also for their cumulative, region-wide impacts.
Mr Windsor said he did not want to end mining developments but he believed it was time to slow down the coal seam gas rush.
While it would be difficult to halt the progress of developments under way, such as the thousands of wells already in production in Queensland, the legislation could “arrest the forward progress”.
“…The elephant in the room here is that we’re allowing these activities to start to proceed on some of these lands without knowing what the long-term and offsite impacts are”.
Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull added his weight to the debate on Monday by saying more scientific research was needed to identify the impact of coal seam gas mining on aquifers.
Meanwhile the Victorian and NSW Governments yesterday ruled out suggestions they follow the Queensland Government’s lead and ban mining exploration within 2km of residential areas with populations of 1000 people or more.
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