Council too slow on CSG issue

COAL seam gas mining creates intense debates between ratepayers but it seems Clarence Valley council doesn't quite have its finger on the pulse on the issue.

Although the coal seam gas industry has the potential to devastate parts of the Clarence Valley, the closing date for the council to make a submission to the O'Farrell Government's inquiry into the industry has passed.

Lismore, Kyogle, Tweed and Richmond Valley councils have all made submissions to the enquiry.

After missing the closing date for submissions on the police audit, this is the second time in the past few weeks that the council has missed the boat.

Mayor Richie Williamson said the council understood the importance of keeping informed on coal seam gas issues and he would be attending next Wednesday's hearing at Alstonville that is associated with the inquiry.

"The inquiry is a valuable avenue not only for the council but concerned citizens to express their views as well," he said.

Cr Williamson said he was hopeful of addressing the hearing and conveying the council's concerns but he was unsure whether this was possible.

Deputy general manager Des Schroder said council had sent a submission to NSW Energy and Resources minister Chris Hartcher detailing the council's stance on coal seam gas mining.

Council's notice of motion on coal seam gas prepared at the July 19 meeting details this stance.

The document states the council will lobby the O'Farrell Government to request they implement a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in Clarence Valley Council LGA until extensive and independent environmental impact statements have been concluded on the effects on the environment.

Areas of concern mentioned include protection of ground and surface water from pollution and environmental disturbance, community health and safety, ensuring no loss of biodiversity, respect for landowner rights, and avoiding economic impacts on agriculture and tourism.

The notice of motion also details the council's intention to lobby the commonwealth government and opposition to raise the issue on a federal level.

Cr Williamson said he had written letters to state and federal ministers reinforcing the council's concern since the notice of motion was prepared.

Coal seam gas is a naturally occurring gas used for the production of electricity.

During the past five years interest in the industry has skyrocketed.

The inquiry intends to thoroughly examine all issues relating to the industry, with a view to providing key recommendations for government action.

On Thursday in parliament, Mr Hartcher said the O'Farrell Government was prepared to examine all options as long as they respected our environment, our water and our prime agricultural land, and were within the constraints of the economic development of New South Wales.

"Our commitment to the people of this state is that the debate will be rational, scientific and in the best interests of the community," he said.

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