THE State Government's promised coal seam gas liaison officer arrived in Casino this week, but was it a case of too little too late following Metgasco's recent suspension of activities in the Northern Rivers?
Not so according to Steve Cozens, a former government project officer and geologist specialising in CSG and petroleum exploration.
"I think there's a fair bit of CSG exploration going on in the state but this is a good centre because Metgasco has carried out an extensive project here and we think the government's position needs to be explained," he said.
"The government doesn't think a lot of people are that aware of what's entailed with coal seam gas exploration and production and what we're doing with the new regulations."
The appointment is not a permanent placement as previously expected, but rather part of a rotating group of eight who will travel to regions across NSW where coal seam gas production is planned or under way.
Mr Cozens said his department's role was to "explain the state regional land use plans, the gateway process that was a part of that, and also the changes to the mining SEPP that produced the new regulations such as the 2km exemption of certain industry clusters and a raft of other things".
But it was a slow start for Mr Cozens, who arrived to an empty appointment book after a two-hour flight delay due to fog in Lismore.
He spent the day speaking with the Richmond Valley Council Mayor and general manager before a quick visit to Metgasco's Casino office.
"I think we need to increase the understanding of what's involved with coal seam gas and I don't think Metgasco considers they're completely finished here," Mr Cozens said.
"I believe my minister Chris Hartcher came up about three weeks ago and I think that's when the idea was first broached. The council was asked if they thought it was a good thing and they invited us to base a community liaison officer here."
Appointments to see the CSG liaison officer can be made at the Casino Community and Cultural Centre (phone 6662 1080) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays into the foreseeable future.
"It's a bit of a trailblazing exercise," Mr Cozens said. "We still don't know if people are going to pour in or if it will just be dribs and drabs."
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