State Government committed to CSG
Renewable energy providers were left off the guest list of an Energy Forum hosted by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) last Friday, with members of the Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas (AACSG) claiming it was nothing more than a forum for Coal Seam Gas providers and energy users.
Protesting outside the forum last Friday, spokesperson for AACSG Carmel Flint was outraged that renewable energy and the community was locked out of an invite-only Energy Forum.
â€œWe think this forum is giving a free run to the Coal Seam Gas industry at the expense of renewable energy and the community,â€ said Carmel Flint. â€œWe are really concerned to see a government agency like RDANI basically picking a winner on energy, cutting out one industry and promoting another that doesnâ€™t even exist on the Tablelands yet and may never exist in terms of Coal Seam Gas. â€œYet renewable energy is proven; New Englanders have been one of the biggest up-takers of solar panels, we have a community wind farm on the way; so it is an extraordinary step and really raises a lot of questions about what is going on inside the NSW Government.â€
MLC Scot MacDonald, who had been instrumental in organising the forum, said it was about securing energy security and competitiveness for industries in the Northern Tablelands.
â€œIt is to inform, particularly our manufacturers and larger energy users, about what is happening with the emerging Coal Seam Gas industry to the west of the plains and what that means for us in the next three to five years,â€ said Scot MacDonald.
â€œThere is nothing being produced out there now but in the next three to five years, there is more than likely going to be a large source of gas and relatively cheap energy.
â€œWill our enterprises in this part of the world get access to that?
â€œI am really concerned as is RDANI that we are part of the picture. If we are not part of the picture, then slowly but surely, I feel we will lose some of our larger energy users and manufacturers and that will take jobs.â€
Scot MacDonald claims that the forum was never about the environmental aspects and not about renewable energy.
â€œWe need to tick all the boxes environmentally, planning wise and accommodate land users,â€ said Mr MacDonald.
â€œThe Coal Seam Gas industry knows that they cannot bulldoze their way, even though they have a legal right to do so, on to peopleâ€™s properties. You have got to have that social licence; you have got to have those environmental safeguards.
â€œI believe that we can do all of that. As the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher said at the breakfast, some policies will be announced in a short while and I think a lot of the social licence and environmental questions will be answered.
â€œI believe that there will be a Coal Seam Gas industry because we can meet the environmental safeguards and I am really excited about it. It has transformed economies in the United States and is transforming economies to the north of us in Queensland.â€