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Gas Exploration in the Far West – what's going on with the consultation

23 February, 2021
Gas Exploration in the Far West  – what's going on with the consultation Image

Last week (16 February) I posted to my Facebook information about the NSW Government’s plan to explore large parts of the far west for conventional and unconventional tight gas exploration.

Despite my appeals to the Minister for Regional NSW and the Minister for Planning, this woeful consultation process is still underway. I would have preferred them to go back to the drawing board and set up a consultation that was open and transparent. This consultation has been poorly planned and executed from the start – people living smack bang in the exploration area still haven’t been told by the NSW Government about what’s happening.

Nonetheless I don’t want the opinions of people living in the area to be excluded or overlooked by the bureaucrats. We must all ensure our opinions on this exploration plan are heard.

This article is an explainer of what we know, don’t have clarity on, and what steps you should be taking if you want to have your say.

What’s happened to date?

  • A handful of landholders in the affected area received letters in the mail advising them that the NSW Government was exploring four areas in western NSW that have potential gas resources.
  • These landholders were told that they needed to register to be involved in the consultation process by Wednesday 17th February 2021.
  • These landholders got in touch with my office concerned that their neighbours hadn’t received the letters and that people hadn’t been given ample time to register to be involved. They were also concerned that this process was inaccessible and not transparent.
  • My office got in touch with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment expressing concern that their ‘register for consultation’ window would close before landholders had received notification about what was happening.
  • The Department confirmed that individuals would be able to register after the deadline. They have not updated their website or communication materials.
  • Individuals and groups who registered to be involved in the consultation have received an Information Paper. The paper contains details of the NSW Strategic Framework, specific to the Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment of the Bancannia, Pondie Range, Neckarboo, and Yathong Ivanhoe Troughs in Western NSW.
  • Individuals are being asked to complete an online form regarding the project. This form asks:
    • Tell us about any potential social, environmental or economic benefits of this activity
    • Tell us about any potential social, environmental or economic risks or constraints associated with this activity.
    • Is there anything else about this area and its people that you think may be important to tell us

In short tell us what positive impact it could have; what negative impact it could have; anything else you want to tell them.

  • We have confirmed today that the registration remains open. But again they have not publicly stated this anywhere.

What do people need to do?

Fill out the consultation form – this link has been emailed to people who registered – I’m making it public HAVE YOUR SAY HERE.

Please be respectful but make sure you have your say – don’t rely on others to speak on your behalf.

If you don’t want to fill out the form email me – [email protected] and we will make sure your submission makes it to the right people.

One last thing from me

It’s become an all too common experience for our communities – tick box consultation. It’s not good enough, and I am taking the NSW Government to task on it.

This whole fiasco – 7 day windows to register to be consulted with regarding a project on your own property, surveys hidden, and information presented in such a complex way it’s hard to figure out what the bureaucrats are actually talking about – I’m calling time on it.

Last week in Parliament I delivered a notice to the NSW Government that called on the government to establish clear standards for engagement with rural and remote communities that are developed with input from their elected representatives.

The current methods of engagement fail community expectations and show little respect for our views and opinions. I’d be interested to hear your views on this issue, what works, what doesn’t, what’s been your experience with government consultation. Please get in contact with my team to let me know your views.

Consultation document from the Department 

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