Apex knocked back to earth

AN application to drill 16 exploration boreholes in Illawarra has been knocked back by the NSW government because of new state planning laws – as well as potential future law changes resulting from its scientific review into CSG activities.

James McGrath

Apex Energy hoped to drill 16 exploration boreholes in an area above the Illawarra Escarpment, having already previously amended its plans in a three-year process.

But in those three years following its initial application, the state’s rules on CSG have changed dramatically.

The most recent changes involve the inclusion of a 2km exclusionary zone around CSG activities and a residentially zoned land.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission said, that under advisement from the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, four of the boreholes would be excluded.

It also took advice from the Sydney Catchment Authority outlining why CSG activities should be barred from special areas in the state. If they were, seven of the remaining boreholes would be excluded.

It also found that it would be imprudent to approve the application while the state’s top scientist, Mary O’Kane, was conducting a review into CSG activities.

It said it would also be imprudent to approve the application given there could be law changes stemming from the review.

It also took advice on coal seam gas activities more broadly from a number of parties, despite the application only being for exploratory boreholes.

- To contact the author of this story, email james.mcgrath@aspermont.com

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