Group makes cover-up claim over plans for coal seam gas drilling in Pilliga

THE failure to make public new coal seam gas drilling plans for the Pilliga Forest has been described as a cover-up by the Wilderness Society, but the Department of Resources and Energy said it was an “administrative oversight which is now resolved”.
Nanjing Night Net

Coal seam gas company Santos lodged two Review of Environment Factors (REFs) with the department on March 21, but failed to upload the documents onto its website until late last week, sparking anger from anti-CSG groups and individuals.

The REFs seek approval to drill eight petroleum exploration pilot wells within the forest, near a previous drilling site that the company was forced to close down two years ago.

Wilderness Society spokeswoman Naomi Hogan said the society only became aware of the proposal after being contacted by a Pilliga landowner who’d noticed activity in the area and wanted some more information.

Numerous inquiries late last week finally forced the department to admit on Monday that the REFs hadn’t gone online.

“I find it an unlikely coincidence that the plans for the biggest new coal seam gas drilling activity in NSW happened to be the ones the NSW government forgot to make publicly available online,” Ms Hogan said.

The department released a statement admitting the REFs were “not uploaded within seven days as is the usual practice, due to an administrative oversight”.

“They have not been approved by the Office of Coal Seam Gas. Additional information has been requested from Santos which is required before an assessment and decision can be made,” it read.

Ms Hogan said it shouldn’t be up to individuals and environment groups to raise the alarm and get these documents into the public domain.

“This ridiculous document cover-up only further instills mistrust in the government around these highly contentious coal seam gas drilling activities in the Pilliga Forest,” she said.

“We need to know our government is taking coal seam gas drilling seriously, not hiding the truth or making ‘oversights’.”

Moree Plains Shire mayor Katrina Humphries, whose shire introduced a moratorium on CSG two years ago, said the whole incident made her feel uncomfortable.

“This process should be clear and transparent,”  Cr Humphries said.

The failure to make public new coal seam gas drilling plans for the Pilliga Forest has been described as a cover-up by the Wilderness Society.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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