NARRABRI Shire Council has raised more than a dozen concerns with Santos’ coal seam gas project, which it wants solved before the project goes ahead.
The council made 23 recommendations in a report providing feedback to the company’s Response to Submissions.
Documents lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment show Narrabri council was “not satisfied” with six aspects of the proposal, while calling for an “independent assessment” of a further eight.
A main concern for council was the lack of transparency in the project’s proposed environmental monitoring system.
Santos says it will “facilitate a third-party environmental audit to ensure compliance”.
However, council wants state-government agency NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to oversee the monitoring, including nearby air quality, noise, water quality and the release of treated water in to local waterways.
It also requested the results of EPA’s monitoring be publicly available on its website.
Another big sticking point was the proposed rehabilitation fund. Council wants a bigger commitment from the company that “covers the true cost of rehabilitation”.
Council was not satisfied with Santos’ attitude towards the impact the project will have on local roads.
“The proponent does not dispute that the project will result in increased traffic generation,” council’s report stated.
It wants to enter in to a road maintenance agreement with Santos, “to ensure the Narrabri Shire community is not unfairly burdened by maintenance of road infrastructure as a result of the project”.
A Santos spokeswomen said the company had already invested around $1.5 million in to local community initiatives, sporting teams and events in northwest NSW.
“If the Narrabri Gas Project is approved, a Gas Community Benefit Fund totalling up to $120 million would support local community programs,” she said.
“Narrabri natural gas already supplies the Wilga Park power station, generating enough electricity to power around 17,500 households in northwest NSW.”
Narrabri council is among the 11 organisations who have so far provided feedback to Santos’ Response to Submissions.
The EPA and the state’s volunteer firefighters have also criticised the lack of detail in Santos’ plan.
The Rural Fire Service has warned the gasfield could be a major hazard in the bushfire prone Pilliga forest, while the EPA say the company has failed to provide any information about how it will dispose of the tonnes of salt the project will produce everyday.
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