Exit poll tells story on CSG

VOTERS want more credible information about the effects of CSG mining, according to a survey conducted by researchers from Southern Cross University during the 2012 Lismore Council elections.

The exit survey, administered by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), found that of those in support of CSG mining, 83% were open to accepting more credible evidence to inform their opinions.

The survey has informed a report, 'Community perspectives of coal seam gas developments', whose co-author and PhD candidate Hanabeth Luke said a random selection of 1036 survey participants (4.2% of the total number of voters in the election) took part in the exit survey.

It explored voters' responses to the referendum-style question, 'Do you support coal seam gas exploration and production in the Lismore City Council area?', to which 86.9% voted 'no'.

Miss Luke's supervisor Dr David Lloyd said the results showed that more information about the impacts of CSG activity needed to be made available.

"The survey provided a unique opportunity to get a handle on what underlies people's decision-making," he said.

The primary concerns of non-supporters of CSG were water quality, community health, and the impacts of the industry on environment and social and economic conditions.

"Water quality seems to be a community concern as it relates directly to the economic viability of those relying on both the aquifer, which could be breached or polluted, and the pollution of streams from failing to contain contaminated water from production wells," Dr Lloyd said.

For supporters, the primary benefits of CSG were jobs for the region, contribution to the economy, and infrastructure.

Despite the CEO of CSG mining company Metgasco Peter Henderson casting aspersions on the credibility of the survey, the report stated that the 'yes' case had been prepared from information published by the CSG industry.

Independent scientists such as Dr Gavin Mudd of Monash University conducting research into CSG impacts have remarked on the almost total lack of data on baseline conditions for water, soil and air quality prior to CSG operations in affected areas, demonstrating that credible information may be hard to come by.

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