NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has rejected Lismore City Council's request to have the State Government's CSG exclusion zone expanded to cover several large residential areas around Lismore.
The land, which is zoned R5, includes areas near East Goonellabah, and at Eltham, Clunes, MacLean's Ridges, Modanville, Bexhill, Eltham, Nimbin, North Lismore, Boat Harbour, Coffee Camp, Richmond Hill, Wyrallah and South Gundurimba. This land was to be in addition to the nine villages already part of the exclusion zone.
Lismore Council argued that any area with a hall or school should be included in the definition of a village.
Cr Simon Clough, who is also chair of the Lock the Gate Alliance, said he was appalled by the Minister's decision.
"While the two kilometre exclusion zone is of only limited effectiveness, it is important to try and protect our schools and rural residential areas as much as possible," he said .
"It's worth remembering that Metgasco earlier this year blew 200 metres of steel pipe out of one of its wells endangering the lives of its workers.
"This is certainly not the type of activity our community wants 200 metres from our rural schools."
Minister Hazzard also rejected Council's proposal that the highly productive food producing areas of the North Coast be considered a Critical Industry Cluster (CIC).
"Hazzard has approved the horse studs and vineyards of the Hunter as agricultural areas that should be excluded from CSG exploration but claims 'I do not believe this area meets the CIC criteria as it does not focus on a specific agricultural product and is not a unique or iconic cluster'," Cr Clough said.
"This decision exposes our highly productive and valuable, macadamia, dairy, sugar cane, small cropping and beef industries to great harm because of CSGs impacts on groundwater and land. It is also a particular threat to the growing number of organic producers."
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