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Business has concerns over NSW CSG restrictions

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The Australian Industry Group and others have commented on the possible risks to business presented by the NSW government’s expansion of restrictions on coal seam gas mining.

The Australian and others report that yesterday a further 1 million hectares of what the NSW government calls prime agricultural land was protected. Planning minister Brad Hazzard announcing that it brought the total to 2.8 million hectares of what would now be subject to review by a “gateway panel” before CSG extraction could proceed.

Hazzard called the restrictions, which would see the buffer zone apply to about 95 per cent of the state’s dwellings, the “toughest CSG controls in Australia”.

Innes Willox, the Ai Group’s CEO called the decision “unfortunate” for NSW, which imports 95 per cent of its gas supply and faces steep price increases in 2016.

"It is unfortunate that the NSW Government has decided to proceed with the most restrictive elements of its revamp of coal seam gas regulation regardless of the looming and intense gas supply issues facing NSW,” said Willox in a statement.

"All eastern states face tight gas supply and steeply rising prices thanks to the imminent start of Liquefied Natural Gas exports. But NSW has the worst problem and shortages and industrial closures are a real risk in the next few years if local and Victorian supply cannot fill the gap left by South Australian gas diverted to export.”

The federal government is in the process of compiling a whitepaper on turning Australia into an “energy super power”. The state of NSW, however, imports 95 per cent of its gas and faces looming price increases.

The NSW Business Chamber has also expressed concern over energy shortages.

"The decision to completely exclude parts of NSW - including 2km zones around residential areas and around critical industry clusters - from gas exploration has put the future of NSW gas-dependent industries such as manufacturing at risk," said the group’s CEO Stephen Cartwright.

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has called CSG extraction in NSW, which would help alleviate shortage issues, one of his biggest immediate portfolio challenges.Image: http://www.sbs.com.au

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