In the last week of the campaign, Coal Seam Gas has at last fired as an election issue. At an ill-tempered forum in Ashgrove on Sunday, a large number of questions were put to Campbell Newman by Brisbane voters on Coal Seam Gas.
Today, the Courier-Mail is running with a story highlighting claims by Lock The Gate Alliance President Drew Hutton that:
A large coal seam gas exploration permit has been granted over a large part of Brisbane’s western suburbs.
The permit, known as EPP641 is owned by BNG Pty Ltd which is a subsidiary of the large CSG company, Arrow which is, in turn, owned 50-50 by the multi-national corporations, PetroChina and Shell.
Suburbs of Brisbane covered by the EPP include Moggill, Pullenvale, Karana Downs and Brookfield and the tenement comes within a kilometre or so of the Kenmore shopping centre.
However, legislation was amended in 2011 to rule out the exploitation of mining tenements in urban areas. The legislation, the Resources Legislation (Balance, Certainty and Efficiency) Act 2011, is accompanied, as is standard, by an Explanatory Memorandum:
The Bill implements the Government’s initiative to resolve community concerns about resource exploration and activities in and close to urban areas – the Urban Restricted Areas (URA) policy.
While economic benefits from the resources sector is considered vital to the ongoing prosperity of Queensland, consideration also needs to be given to the amenity and liveability enjoyed by the people living in towns near to
resources rich areas.
Interim restrictions were introduced on 16 August 2011 to prevent new exploration applications being made in certain urban areas. The restrictions included land within SEQ regional area plus a two kilometre buffer. Outside of SEQ, restrictions were applied to town areas plus a two kilometre buffer area for towns with a population of 1,000 or more. This Bill will amend resources acts to put in place more permanent arrangements to maintain restrictions for carrying out resources activities in close proximity to urban communities.
Lawyers Carter Newell explain the policy introduced in August 2011:
The Queensland Government gave force to the Policy by declaring a new restricted area under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld).Areas which fall within Restricted Area 384 (RA384) include: all land bound by the SEQ Regional Plan, which spans from the Sunshine Coast to the Queensland border and extends west past Toowoomba; and all regional towns with a population of 1,000 or more.
A two kilometre buffer from the boundary of each declared urban centre is also classified as restricted area.
The impact of the declaration is that while RA384 is in effect, the Queensland Government will refuse all new applications for coal and mineral exploration which cover or partially cover the restricted area.
The Act of 2011 gives legislative effect to this policy.