Premier Keneally: The Government rigorously assesses on a case-by-case basis all coal seam gas applications that it receives. Any assessment is based on the merits of the project and recognises the importance of considering all potential environmental impacts and risks that may arise from a particular project, including from the specific techniques to be employed. It is important to note that when compared with using coal for the same purpose, the use of coal seam gas results in very substantial savings in greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Planning requires that all major mines and gas production in New South Wales comply with rigorous conditions of project approval. That includes any proposal to extract coal seam gas.
I am advised that some Queensland gas extraction involves the underground combustion of coal to produce the gas. I am further advised that the New South Wales Department of Planning is unaware of any situation in New South Wales where this method is used. The Government is committed to the safe development of the coal seam gas industry in New South Wales whilst ensuring that environmental and community issues are properly addressed in all projects and at all stages of the industry's development.
It is important to note that the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water does not have a role in exploration licences but has a strong role in any subsequent part 3A planning process. During the exploration stages the Department of Industry and Investment has the lead role in issuing either petroleum exploration licences or petroleum assessment leases. I am advised that these are generally evaluated under part 5 of the Environmental Protection and Assessment Act. However, in some cases these can be evaluated under part 3A of the Environmental Protection and Assessment Act in specified local government areas within the Major Development State Environmental Planning Policy.
Clover Moore MP: My question is directed to the Premier. How will the Government ensure that all exploration licences for resource extraction comply with a long-term strategic plan for mining and areas excluded from mining and that they are subject to independent environmental assessment and oversight by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water?