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Slaying of zombie gas exploration licences welcome, but Narrabri gas project should also be canned

The Nature Conservation Council welcomes the government's announcement today that 8 out of 12 ‘zombie’ petroleum exploration licenses (PELs) will be cancelled, and calls for the remaining PELs on the Liverpool Plains to be cancelled as well. 

“Coal seam gas industrialises the landscape and threatens water quality and quantity, so we welcome the cancellation of these eight zombie PELs.  However, it is disappointing the government has not extinguished licenses relating to Santos’ Narrabri gas project,” said Chris Gambian, Chief Executive of the Nature Conservation Council. 

“This highlights that if the 850 gas wells planned for the Pilliga Forest area near Narrabri are allowed to go ahead, the gas field will eventually creep into other areas, including the highly productive Liverpool Plains.

"Australia produces more than enough gas to meet its current needs if properly managed. New gas mining projects will inevitably be white elephants as the world transitions away from fossil fuels.

“The Coalition promised to deal with land use conflict between mining and agriculture when it came to power a decade ago, but we continue to see a confused approach, with some areas being protected, while other areas are opened up to coal and gas.  

“The conservation movement also welcomes the announcement that gas exploration in the far west will not go ahead.  The community in the far west - farmers, first nations and conservationists alike - is opposed to unconventional gas fracking the fragile environment. 

“Gas is a fossil fuel and when fugitive emissions of methane from extraction and leaks from the vast pipeline network are taken into account, it has a big climate impact.  

 “Other jurisdictions in Australia and around the world are implementing plans to wean households and industry off gas and onto renewable electricity. We accept that will take time, but NSW needs to start planning for a future beyond gas now rather than go along with the pantomime of a ‘gas led recovery’,” he said. 

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