Reasons why PELA 158 should not proceed

  • The Application covers a large area of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and large parts of three National Parks: Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone and Wollemi. It also covers areas of State Forest which are part of a long-standing reserve proposal (Gardens of Stone Stage 2) and have a range of environmental and heritage values either poorly represented or not represented in the World Heritage Area. It is against international best practice guidelines to mine within, or adjacent to, a World Heritage area, as stipulated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as well as the International Council on Mining and Metals.
  • The Greater Blue Mountains area is a designated World Heritage area of global significance for biodiversity conservation. Its ecosystems depend on a reliable supply of surface water and groundwater from aquifers. These water resources would be severely threatened by CSG exploration in the area.
  • The Blue Mountains local government area alone contains 10% of the listed threatened species in NSW. These include 14 birds, 16 mammals and 48 plants. The Wollemi National Park is host to the unique Wollemi Pine which is classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The region, particularly Newnes Plateau, contains many magnificent examples of the Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamps, listed as an endangered ecological community under State and Federal legislation. Relevant to its World Heritage listing, UNESCO notes that the Greater Blue Mountains contain primitive species of outstanding significance to the evolution of the earth's plant life.
  • Loss of World Heritage status could result if exploration and exploitation of CSG gas is approved in the area. The flow-on consequences of this and the actual despoliation of an area known nationally and internationally for its scenic and pristine beauty would be enormous. The tourism industry, a mainstay of the Blue Mountains economy, would suffer greatly. An extensive range of structured and unstructured recreational activities take place in the Greater Blue Mountains, (e.g. bush walking, caving, canyoning, bird watching, camping and photography, as well as nature education programmes for schools and nature conservation programmes for adults). Such activities are not compatible with either CSG exploration or exploitation.
  • Coal Seam Gas exploration and/or exploitation risks contamination of the water supply. The area covered by this application plays a vital part as water catchment for river systems which ultimately supply Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Lithgow with water. The area also covers the headwaters of declared wild rivers which are important to the scenic beauty of the World Heritage Area.
  • Even exploration for CSG threatens the integrity of the Blue Mountains environment. Because of the rugged topography of the Blue Mountains it is simply not possible to construct access roads or other exploration infrastructure without causing significant environmental damage.
  • Coal seam gas is a fire hazard. It mainly comprises methane which is highly flammable and can be easily ignited by sparks or an open flame. Methane leaks are common. Once an area is fracked, gas can leak from many places over an entire gas field. Should it be commercially exploited, pressurised methane gas flowing through gas pipelines from the processing plants could explode and cause devastation in this high value conservation area. Such blazes can, of course, also endanger residents in neighbouring towns.
  • We are repeatedly told that there will be no CSG exploration and/or exploitation in National Parks and the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. National Parks are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. If this is the case, why permit an organisation to lodge a PELA? It is noted that hunting in National Parks was also proscribed but hunting is now permitted. Even if excised from the application, the fact is that significant parts of the PELA cover areas which contribute to Sydney's, The Blue Mountains' and Lithgow's water supplies, and are critical to the values exemplified in the World Heritage Area. Also State Conservation Areas and State Forests do not have the supposed protections of National Parks and exploration would still be possible within these areas.
  • Included in this application are regions affected by the Coalpac Consolidation Project which the Dept of Planning determined should be refused because the impacts on the area's conservation values would be 'unacceptable'. The same evaluation should apply to this proposal.
  • Quality of life issues should also be prioritised in consideration of this project, particularly as they will greatly affect the residents of Cullen Bullen, and those who live near Newnes and in the headwaters of the Capertee Valley as this licence application completely covers those areas. Residents of the Mt. Victoria and Winmalee/Springwood areas could also expect increased noise, particularly from truck movements if CSG activity was to occur in the area covered by PELA 158 near their houses.
  • There is no social licence to explore for coal seam gas in the Blue Mountains. There has been enormous opposition to existing licences and residents in conjunction with the Blue Mountains City Council have declared the area a CSG-free zone.
  • The potential ecological, environmental and social impacts flowing from the granting of this application are so great as to make the rejection of this application imperative.
Stop Coal Seam Gas

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