AGL has called for greater community consultation requirements, stronger water management regulations and a code of conduct to set minimum industry standards for coal seam gas (CSG) projects in New South Wales.
In its submission to the NSW Government on the directions and issues to be addressed in a coal and gas strategy for NSW, AGL also calls for existing laws governing the CSG industry, in particular the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991, to be re-written to end "confusion for the community".
"AGL believes government has an opportunity to communicate its vision for the industry through the NSW Coal and Gas Strategy," AGL says. "Over the past 12 months in particular, misunderstanding about the nature of the CSG industry has led to wider unease in local communities.
"AGL believes that greater levels of community engagement can effectively address these concerns."
AGL's Group General Manager Upstream Gas, Mike Moraza, said the current review offered the Government a unique opportunity to provide certainty for both the community and the CSG industry:
"There are people who are confused by the many claims and counter claims being made around CSG so we believe the Government should be congratulated for this very positive step toward providing clarity and direction," Mr Moraza said.
Other key recommendations in the AGL submission include:
- Distinguishing between coal mining and CSG production industries.
- "The size, scale and impact of CSG extraction on local communities and the environment is far less than that of coal mining. AGL considers the CSG industry to be far less intrusive ... than coal mining."
- Developing a CSG water management strategy with the industry and leading water experts.
- "The current water regulation regime ... is confusing and unnecessarily duplicative. AGL recognises community concern about the water impacts of CSG projects and we understand and support the need for regulation to ensure that any water impacts are appropriately managed."
- Recognising the benefits to NSW of developing the CSG industry.
- "The growth of the NSW CSG industry will provide many benefits including: contributing to the ability of NSW to meet its energy requirements; providing employment opportunities and boosting regional prosperity; and acting as a transition fuel as NSW moves towards a low carbon future.
- Developing new legislation that allows CSG producers to demonstrate their ability to co-exist with other land uses.
"CSG extraction and existing land uses can co-exist well together. CSG is a comparatively low impact industry which is able to integrate successfully with existing land uses to the satisfaction of the owners of the land."
AGL is one of Australia's leading integrated energy companies and is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers. Drawing on over 170 years of experience, AGL operates retail and merchant energy businesses, power generation assets and an upstream gas portfolio. AGL has one of Australia's largest retail energy and dual fuel customer bases. AGL has a diverse power generation portfolio including base, peaking and intermediate generation plants, spread across traditional thermal generation as well as renewable sources including hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is Australia's largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets and is looking to further expand this position by exploring a suite of low emission and renewable energy generation development opportunities.