Whitton's wish to ban coal seam gas mining goes beyond Orange

ORANGE councillor Jeff Whitton wants to make Orange a coal seam gas free zone, but any decision council makes could be overruled by the state government. 

Councillors will vote on Cr Whitton’s motion on Tuesday night, which would ban any form of exploration or mining for coal seam gas in the Orange local government area.

“I also want Centroc to consider putting that in place for all of the Centroc local government areas,” Cr Whitton said.

That would mean the local government areas of Bathurst, Blayney, Boorowa, Cabonne, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Lithgow, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Upper Lachlan, Weddin and Young, and Central Tablelands County would all be declared coal seam gas free zones.

Coal seam gas is a natural gas that occurs in the coal seam of the earth. It can be accessed by a method called “fracking” which is a high pressure injection of sand, water and chemicals into a coal seam gas well. 

The injection causes fractures in the coal seam allowing the gas to flow to the surface of the well.

However, Cr Whitton’s motion would not stand up against the state government, which could easily overrule any policy that local government areas put in place, because the state government already had established policies with regard to coal seam gas. 

But Cr Whitton said it was still important to make a stand and vote for a policy, despite the ultimate decision over coal seam gas mining being out of council’s hands.

In 2013, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council lodged an application for coal seam gas exploration which encompassed Bathurst, Lithgow, Oberon, Cowra and out towards Mudgee, but there was no application for the Orange LGA. 

“While they say there may not be anything on the immediate horizon, I think it is important to have a policy in place,” Cr Whitton said. 

“If we didn’t have a policy in place and we got an application for exploration it would be hard to reject it.”

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