NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley (centre).
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley (centre).

Labor vows to make Santos Pilliga site a CSG-free zone

ANOTHER area has been added to New South Wales Labor's list of CSG-free zones, and the company planning to mine it is none too pleased.

Opposition leader Luke Foley said Santos would be banned from producing coal seam gas at its exploration site in Pilliga Forest, in the state's north-west, if Labor won government.

He said Labor would not cancel or buy back any exploration licences, but would refuse to renew them upon expiry - the same result without the need to pay any compensation.

For the Pilliga site, he said the ban would protect a "crucial recharge zone" for the Great Artesian Basin.

"Communities in our state's north-west have made their opposition to CSG in the Pilliga clear," he said. "The risks CSG poses to the natural assets of the Pilliga, particularly the underground water storages, are unacceptable."

Santos NSW general manager Peter Mitchley said shutting down the project would have no affect on the water supply Mr Foley was claiming to protect, and operations would not take any water from the Great Artesian Basin.

"Our project area is largely dry scrub land in the state forest and is outside the sections of the Pilliga protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act," he said.

"Our operations will be located on about 1000ha - far less than 1% of the Pill-iga - and from that relatively small area we can provide up to half of NSW's natural gas needs."