Federal leader of The Nationals, Warren Truss, has just released a blueprint for coal-seam gas development in Australia.
‘Managed properly,’ he says, ‘coal-seam gas has the potential to revitalise parts of regional Australia, delivering a new economic boom. Poorly managed, it could become an environmental and social disaster.’
Mr Truss says a set of five principles were formulated after The Nationals adopted a coal-seam gas policy in August. They are:
1. That 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 by coal-seam gas operations springing up on their doorstep.
4. Landowners are entitled to appropriate pecuniary returns sourced by reason of access to their land. Remuneration for landowners should not be limited to compensation.
5. 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 state governments have primary responsibility for the approval and supervision of the coal-seam gas industry and The Nationals recognise the role and efforts of state governments in dealing with this issue.’
He added a discussion paper on specific policy options to achieve the core principles will be released shortly.