CSG-FREE ANNOUNCEMENT: State Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts (second from right) announces Dart Energy has relinquished more than a quarter of its CSG exploration licence, covering most of the Ballina electorate, with (from left) Nationals' candidate for Ballina Kris Beavis, State Member for Ballina Don Page and State Member for Lismore, Thomas George.
CSG-FREE ANNOUNCEMENT: State Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts (second from right) announces Dart Energy has relinquished more than a quarter of its CSG exploration licence, covering most of the Ballina electorate, with (from left) Nationals' candidate for Ballina Kris Beavis, State Member for Ballina Don Page and State Member for Lismore, Thomas George. Graham Broadhead

Dart gives up PEL on area that doesn't have any CSG anyway

THE Ballina electorate is effectively now coal seam gas-free, but there isn't similar news for Lismore.

The NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, was in Ballina yesterday to announce Dart Energy (Bruxner) Pty Ltd had relinquished more than a quarter of its Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 445, which includes the vast majority of the Ballina electorate where CSG hadn't been found.

However, Mr Roberts refused to comment on the Metgasco licence around the Lismore area, where there has been widespread opposition to coal seam gas mining, because the company was involved in a court case with the government.

But Mr Roberts said the Office of Coal Seam Gas had recommended the renewal of the rest of Dart Energy's PEL 445 for six years based on the company's "financial and technical capacity and good record of environmental management and rehabilitation".

He said the company would be restricted to "desktop exploration" in the pocket of land within the Ballina electorate mostly in the south-western corner extending from the Rous Mill area through to Bagotville.

"Any other activities require further approvals and are subject to the government's strict new conditions and regulations," he said.

Spokesman for Gasfield-free Ballina Shire Group, John Heaton, welcomed the announcement on PEL 445 for Ballina Shire.

However, he said, because of the community opposition for unconventional gas mining in the region, the licence for the entire PEL 445 should be cancelled.

Mr Roberts said the surrender of the licence for most of the Ballina electorate shows "the Liberal/Nationals Government is listening (to the community) and acting".

The surrender of part of PEL 445 comes after 12 months of negotiation by the government with Dart Energy, and follows the government's NSW Gas Plan's "use it or lose it" policy.

Retiring State Member for Ballina, Don Page, said the company hadn't found CSG in the area that has been surrendered.

But he said the surrender was a "great outcome" for the electorate as it effectively made the electorate CSG-free.


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