John Rosenbaum joins Aled Hoggett’s criticism of Gloucester Dialogue group on AGL coal seam gas plan

admin | 杭州桑拿
7 Apr 2019

A coal seam gas drill rig at Gloucester.GLOUCESTER mayor John Rosenbaum has joined fellow councillor Aled Hoggett in criticising a lack of consultation by energy giant AGL with the wider community, but said he still wanted to be part of an ongoing dialogue with the company.

Cr Rosenbaum said he agreed with Cr Hoggett’s assessment that the Gloucester Dialogue – set up as a consultative forum between the community and AGL – had failed in its goal to develop ‘‘trust and … open communication’’, saying it had been ‘‘bogged down’’ in bureaucratic detail and had not been transparent with the wider community.

Cr Rosenbaum said the Dialogue had not been informed about a number of important decisions, including AGL’s plan to release water produced from coal seam gas drilling into a nearby creek when high rain levels didn’t allow for irrigation.

‘‘Those sorts of things are frustrating and I can understand where Aled is coming from,’’ Cr Rosenbaum said.

However he said he believed it was better ‘‘to at least be in the room’’ so that when issues were raised ‘‘at least we can apply pressure’’.

He also said changes to the way information from the meetings was published were being introduced to improve its transparency.

The Newcastle Herald reported on Thursday that Cr Hoggett had quit the Gloucester Dialogue because he said it had become ‘‘a means by which AGL and the state government provide carefully selected and manicured information to the council and the community’’ that ‘‘creates an illusion of consultation where in fact none exists’’.

AGL hit back at those comments, listing a number of examples where the company had responded directly to the Dialogue’s concerns.

‘‘For example, when the Dialogue members raised concerns about produced water and salt, AGL released its plans for a desalination plant,’’ a spokeswoman said.

‘‘When the issue of water and faultlines in the local geology was discussed, AGL committed to installing two extra water bores below the floodplain and in the faults to learn more about the shallow groundwater.

‘‘Airborne methane emissions was raised at the Dialogue and as a result AGL completed baseline monitoring before commencing activities, which will be compared to results once hydraulic fracturing is completed.’’

STATE Parliament has voted to establish a select committee into gas supply and cost in NSW.

Headed by upper house Shooters Party MP Robert Borsak, the committee will investigate the ‘‘factors affecting the supply, demand and cost of natural gas’’ in that state, including the impact of ‘‘tight supply’’ and the ‘‘commercial conduct of gas producers and the operation of the international and domestic gas markets’’.

Gas prices in NSW have continued to increase in recent years, driven by the huge jump in overseas demand and exports from projects in Queensland and the slow development of coal seam gas projects such as at Gloucester.

The solution has become an increasingly fraught battleground in the ideological stoush over coal seam gas exploration in NSW.

Producer AGL says its Gloucester coal seam gas project could provide about 15 per cent of the state’s gas and that regulators need to make it easier to push ahead with projects, while the state Greens and Labor parties argue for restrictions on gas exports.

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