by Gareth Hughes
The New South Wales government has announced a ban on all coal seam gas development within two kilometres of residential areas and industry clusters, such as horse breeders and wine producers, across the state.
Good on the New South Wales government for considering the quality of life of its residents and protecting them from the effects of noise, visual impacts and other effects of coal seam gas activities. Although rural residents also need protection from these effects, this is a good start.
It highlights the similar issue we face in New Zealand of oil and gas – including the controversial fracking practice – occurring near homes, schools and towns.
I think our Government and Councils should look at the merits of taking a similar approach with the oil and gas industry in New Zealand. Basic safe guidelines should be enforced along with greater opportunities for communities and the public to have a say when consents are considered.
There is no place for the oil and gas industry within our residential neighbourhoods, nor right next to our farmhouses. I was horrified recently to view photos from Taranaki of homes within 200m of gas wells and schools near fracking production sites. It’s another example of the light-handed approach we have taken to regulating this industry.
However, to avoid real safety risks and environmental harm, the better option is to focus on clean energy alternatives instead of ramping up production of climate-warming fossil fuels and allowing industry to drill within our towns and cities.