CSG exploration firm pulls out of Australia after backlash

A COAL seam gas firm exploring in northern New South Wales has slashed Australian jobs with a plan to move overseas after being hindered by changes to laws on CSG.

Dart Energy told the Australian Stock Exchange on Tuesday it would cut 70% of its workforce - understood to be about 110 - as a direct result of the new legislation in New South Wales which curtailed operations.

Instead of working on its three NSW exploration sites in Newcastle, Upper Hunter and along the Queensland border, Dart will now focus on its plans in the British isles and Asia.

Dart's "PEL445" target area took in the coastline from Iluka in the south to Brunswick Heads in the north then deep into the state's west.

It included the towns of Evans Head, Ballina, Lennox Head, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Kyogle.

In a statement, Dart chairman Nick Davies told the ASX the company had to act aggressively in response to new State and Federal Laws that directly affected their planning.

New South Wales introduced regulations stopping gas operations from within 2km of residential areas.

Meanwhile the Federal Government has brought in new rules forcing any mine or gas project which could affect water supplies must now earn a Federal approval.

Both levels of government were responding to fierce opposition to coal seam gas mining.

Mr Davies said the Dart board of directors was "extremely disappointed with the uncertainty created by recent NSW and Federal Government decisions".

Dart would not return, he said, until "NSW and Federal policies are in place to support the industry" in supplying gas to the state.

"The consequence is that investment is leaving the country, field operations are being suspended, Australian jobs are being lost and the impending energy crisis is not being address and indeed, it will only get worse."

Mr Davies said Australia's position was in contrast with the United Kingdom where gas extraction was supported by the government.

Dart also announced its Australian chief executive Robbert de Weijer would leave the company, with Dart Energy International boss John McGoldrick absorbing his responsibilities.

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