More power for residents

Don Page.
Don Page.

NORTHERN NSW residents could have more power to oppose wind farm developments than coal seam gas wells and coal mines under new draft planning guidelines.

Under the draft wind farm guidelines announced before Christmas, residents who live within 2km of a proposed wind farm will have the right to veto the project.

Anti-coal seam gas campaigners have said the guidelines create double standards because coal seam gas developments are allowed within 200m of occupied houses.

Northern Rivers Guardian spokesperson and Lock the Gate Alliance management committee member, Michael McNamara, said wind farms were more sustainable than coal seam gas wells.

"It is outrageous that the 2km veto does not apply to coal seam gas exploration activities," he said.

"Restrictions on different activities should relate to the relative risks posed by those activities. On any reckoning the risks associated with coal seam gas exploration and extraction are far more serious and long lasting than even the worst reports of risks associated with wind farms."

Mr McNamara said local MPs should work to ensure coal seam gas wells aren't drilled near houses.

"I call on local state MPs Geoff Provest and Thomas George to pressure the Premier to extend this right of veto to proposed coal seam gas activities within a 2km radius of any residence."

Ballina MP Don Page said people should not compare guidelines on coal seam gas wells to the tough new restrictions on wind farm developments.

"They are different things. Wind farms are created on the surface of a property owned by farmers or landowners. That's not the case with coal seam gas which is a resource that is underground and owned by everyone, so they are different sorts of issues really."

Mr Page said the State Government was mindful of community concern over coal seam gas wells and their impact on groundwater supplies.

"We haven't approved any new exploration licences since we came into government and we have a moratorium on fracking until April."

Lismore MP Thomas George was not available for comment.

People wishing to write submissions to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure about the wind farm guidelines have until March 14.

Wind farms, wells and houses:

Coal seam gas wells not permitted within 200m of a permanent residence

Wind farms are not permitted within 2km of a home unless residents are happy with the proposal

Topics:  coal seam gas mining lismore renewable energy

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