DESIGNATED “special areas” in the Shoalhaven have been included in the NSW government’s implemented hold on exploration and extraction of natural gas from coal seams.
The government recently announced a hold on exploration and extraction in the special areas zone within Sydney’s drinking water catchment.
In the Shoalhaven the special areas include the Tallowa Dam catchment at Kangaroo Valley, which also takes in Bendeela.
At this stage there is no consideration for the rich farming properties on the Shoalhaven floodplain.
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said the hold on CSG activities in the Sydney Catchment Authority special areas was in response to community concern and in recognition of the pristine nature of these areas which are designated under the Sydney Catchments Authority Act.
“The NSW chief scientist has been asked to review the potential impacts that CSG activities may have on water quality and quantity in the special areas,” she said.
“The designated special areas in the Shoalhaven are also included.
“The hold will remain in place pending the outcomes of the chief scientist’s investigation which is expected in 2014.”
Resources Minister Chris Hartcher said the government supported the principle of restricting activities in the special areas until there was greater understanding of potential impacts of exploration and extraction of natural gas from coal seams.
“Designated special areas in the catchment are recognised due to their topography and importance in filtering surface waters that flow in to the catchment’s dams,” he said.
“No activities should occur in these areas if they are detrimental to the quality and supply of water to the large population of Sydney and the Illawarra.”
While there are no existing approvals in place for drilling in the special areas, all previous drilling in these areas occurred under consents provided by the previous government.
Mr Hartcher commended the work of a number of MPs, including Kiama MP Gareth Ward, who expressed concerns on behalf of his constituents at exploration and extraction of natural gas from coal seams in the catchment.