Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore hailed the decision as ‘‘a big victory’’ for the community campaign launched by the group four years ago.
Ms Moore called for the government to go further and impose a permanent ban on CSG operations.
‘‘Both the current and previous state government had a hand in theses licences,’’ she said.
‘‘All three PELs were issued by the ALP and two were renewed by the Coalition.
‘‘We call on the Government to cancel the final remaining licence in the Sydney drinking water catchment: PEL 2 held by AGL.
‘‘“Before the last state election Barry O’Farrell promised to ban mining in NSW drinking water catchment areas. This has not happened.
‘‘If this Government is serious about securing our drinking water supply, they’ll go beyond cancelling licences in the lead up to an election, and announce a ban.
‘‘We need permanent protection of our drinking water, not a situation where new licences can be issued after the election that put drinking water at risk.’’
Petroleum exploration licences, which were granted to allow coal seam gas operations in the Woronora and other parts of the Sydney drinking water catchment, have been cancelled
Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts announced the cancellation of the three licences after a government buy-back from Apex Energy.
The licences are:
■ PEL (petroleum exploration licence) 442, issued in February 2002, covered 23,067 hectares from south of Port Kembla, west of Dapto and north to Clifton.
■ PEL 444, issued in April 2003, covered 6,272 hectares from Clifton, west of Darkes Forest and north of Lilyvale.
■ PEL 454, issued in March 2007, covered 28,397 hectares west of Oakdale.
Mr Roberts said the licences covered significant areas of Sydney’s south, west and Wollongong, including the water catchment special areas [lands immediately adjacent to the waterways, where people can be fined if they enter].
“The special areas are the most sensitive and important areas for securing our drinking water supply,” Mr Roberts said.
“In November 2013, the Liberals and Nationals government placed a moratorium on coal seam gas activities in the special areas of the catchment.’’
Heathcote MP Lee Evans said he had fighting for the cancellation of the licences since he was elected and he ‘‘very, very happy’’.
‘‘We have finally put it to bed,’’ he said.
Oatley MP Mark Coure said it was a matter he and other members had raised with ministers and in the party room.
‘‘It ensures there will be no CSG mining at all around the waterways,’’ he said.
The licence buy-back does not prevent other mining companies applying for licences in those areas in the future, but government officials have said previously that would be highly unlikely, and the companies would have great difficulty meeting strict requirements that would be imposed.
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