Author Archives: maxphillips

42 Days to Respond to Vickery Coal Mine Extension proposal too short for drought-stricken farmer

MEDIA RELEASE – 24 September 2018

NSW Greens Resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today called on the NSW Government to extend the review period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Vickery Coal Mine Extension from 42 days to 90 days, to allow the local community adequate time to review the 4,000 page EIS.

The Extension Project proposes to increase mine extraction from 4.5 to up to 10 million tonnes per annum, with potentially significant impacts on surrounding landholders.

“The idea that farming families in Narrabri, Boggabri and Gunnedah, currently dealing with the drought, could get across the detail of 4,000 pages in 40 days is disrespectful at best. These are complex, technical documents that take time to digest and respond to,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Planning Minister Antony Roberts sitting in his Lane Cove electorate office clearly has no understanding of the pressures on farmers in the day to day operation of their businesses.”

“This is effectively a new mine in a sensitive agricultural area, and the community must have adequate time to respond to the potentially significant impacts of the proposal on groundwater resources and noise especially.”

“The Greens strongly back the farmers’ very reasonable request of the Planning Minister to provide an extension of time to 90 days to review the documents. This extension of time will go some of the way to ensuring that there is proper scrutiny and consideration of the impacts,” said Mr Buckingham.

“There should be no new coal mines or coal mine expansions in an era of worsening climate change, especially with the impacts of climate change so evident in the impacts of this severe drought. It is negligent and irresponsible for the Government to be allowing this proposal to proceed.”

Independent investigation clears Jeremy Buckingham

MEDIA RELEASE – 11 September 2018

An independent investigation has cleared Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham of any wrongdoing after a complaint was lodged in May 2018 alleging inappropriate behaviour in August 2011.

The recommendation sent to Mr Buckingham today by the independent investigator at Workdynamic recommends:

“The Greens NSW resolve this matter with no adverse finding against you with respect to sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour towards Ms Buckland.”

The investigation interviewed female witnesses who corroborated Mr Buckingham’s version of events.

Ms Buckland made her allegations public on the ABC 730 program before the confidential investigation had been finalised.

Jeremy Buckingham said:

“I’m glad the day has finally arrived when I’ve been cleared. It’s been incredibly difficult and damaging to have these false allegations made public and used by certain people to try to destroy me.

“Having false allegations aired on national television is incredibly distressing and a very serious breach of investigation process. Allegations of this nature should be handled confidentially and sensitively and not be used for a trial by media.

“The politicisation and breach of confidentiality of these processes makes it less likely that people with genuine complaints will come forward. If you abuse a complaints process then people lose faith in it.

“The people who politicise complaints for political gain should be ashamed. They trade important principles of justice for base political manoeuvring and for personal political advantage.

“I have lodged a comprehensive complaint against the ABC 730 program alleging extreme bias and multiple, serious breaches of the ABC Code of Practice and MEAA Code of Ethics. The ABC failed to report my version of events or the evidence of other witnesses. They also failed to wait for the outcome of this investigation.

“I am pursing a number of civil actions to seek justice and restore my reputation.

“I’d like to thank everyone who did not judge me based on very biased and defamatory media reports, and those who have supported me during this very difficult time.”

Ombudsman report damns water compliance performance

MEDIA RELEASE – 17 August 2018

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said today’s Ombudsman’s report Water: Compliance and Enforcement once again details how the NSW government downgraded and neglected water compliance until 4 Corners exposed its failures in July 2017. He backed the Ombudsman’s recommendation that the rollout of meters for water users be fast-tracked to be completed before the current target date of 2023.

“Once again we have a damning Ombudsman report into water compliance in NSW. Successive National Party water ministers have allowed compliance to be underfunded and neglected to the point where the Ombudsman has revealed that compliance officers were not issued Penalty Infringement Notice books for over a year after being transferred to WaterNSW,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Placing the Nationals in charge of water is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Unfortunately, water is an area where government action and inaction can result in significant windfall profits for some water users, which is why compliance and enforcement is so crucial.

“The Greens strongly back the Ombudsman’s recommendation that the government speed up the rollout of metering for water users. The Ken Matthews inquiry recommended a ‘no meter, no pump’ rule, but the government has squibbed it with a slow roll out of water meters.

“It’s not just the drought that has dried up our inland rivers, it is also decades of neglect, mismanagement, corruption and over-allocation.”

‘Ludicrous’: First new coal license set to be granted in Sydney Basin since 1993

MEDIA RELEASE: 14 August 2018

The Greens NSW mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today expressed outrage that the NSW Government intend to grant the first new coal exploration license in the Sydney basin since 1993 to South 32 despite the company breaching its Environmental Protection Licenses 447 times in the past 18 years at its four existing collieries in south west Sydney.  The allocation of this license near Picton in the catchment of the Nepean River comes at the same time that the Liberals have sought to renew over 1000 km2 of existing coal exploration licenses in the Sydney basin held by the Government.

“South 32’s south-west Sydney coal mines have breached their environmental protection licenses 447 times in the past 18 years without any consequences, making a mockery of the law,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It beggars belief that the Liberals are actually considering granting a new coal exploration license in the Sydney Basin to this repeat offender. The destruction caused by coal mining is clear and the community opposition is overwhelming.

“We need decisive leadership to end the NSW addiction to coal and a basic principle should be to not renew or issue new licenses and approvals in the Sydney Basin and our drinking water catchments.

“Why in 2018, with climate change biting, are the Liberal Government opening up new areas and renewing exploration licenses over massive parts of the Sydney Basin, paving the way for new coal mines here?

“It is ludicrous that the Government is even considering an application for a new coal exploration license in the catchment of the Nepean River in the Sydney Basin.

“The people of Sydney will not tolerate new or expanded coal mining and the Greens will be making an end to coal mining one of the key issues in the lead up to the state election,” said Mr Buckingham.

Endeavour Coal (a subsidiary of South 32) have had non-compliances with their Environmental Protection License at the West Cliff, North Cliff, Appin and Appin West Collieries every single year since 1999 for a total of 447 non-compliances. They have never had a single Penalty Notice for this.

This comprises 182 non-compliances on EPL 2504 since 2002, 218 on EPL 758 from 2000-2010 (in 2010 EPL 758 was combined with EPL 2504) and 47 non compliances for EPL 398 between 1999 and 2010 (when it was also combined with EPL 2504).

The new exploration license application is the yellow one in this map:

picton license

There are three massive exploration licenses held by the NSW Government (officially the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment) which are located in the Sydney Basin, including parts of the drinking water catchment that have expired recently and the Government has recently applied to have them renewed:

Title Date granted Date expired Size (km2)
AUTH 6 17-Jul-72 1-May-18 727
AUTH 278 18-Nov-87 15-Nov-16 262.5
AUTH 281 15-Dec-81 1-May-18 52
Total: 1041.5

Contact: Jack Gough 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

NSW should reject a NEG that hampers state efforts to reduce emissions

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 August 2018

The Greens NSW energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today said the NSW Government should reject the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) if it fails to recognise state efforts to reduce emissions as additional to the National Emissions Reduction Target, to ensure that all options are open to the current and future NSW Governments to act on climate change.

“The National Energy Guarantee has been cobbled together to try to placate the dinosaurs within the federal Coalition party room. The NSW Government should reject any framework that restricts the ability of our state to implement real action to address climate change,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Victoria, the ACT, Queensland and South Australia all have state based renewable energy targets. Any future NSW Government should also implement an ambitious state-based renewable energy target and associated schemes to achieve this target.

“If the NEG undermines state-based renewable energy targets or emission reduction targets by not making them additional to the NEG’s emissions reduction target, then it ties the hands of any future state government to reduce emissions and attract jobs and investment in the renewable energy sector to NSW.

“While investment in renewable energy is currently booming, it may come to a crashing halt once the federal RET is fulfilled. That’s why state policies to develop renewable energy are important and should not be undermined by a NEG with no ambition that is primarily aimed at pleasing the dinosaurs in the Liberal and National parties.”

Greens call on Government to block new coal mine in Sydney drinking water catchment after WaterNSW raises serious concerns

MEDIA RELEASE: 3 August 2018

The Greens NSW energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today called on the NSW Government to step in and end the uncertainty over the Hume Coal project at Berrima in the Southern Highlands after WaterNSW raised numerous serious concerns about the impacts on Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

In a submission to the Planning Department, WaterNSW said that “the Hume coal project may significantly reduce the quantity of water in the Sydney catchment area and available for WaterNSW’s supply requirements.” WaterNSW also highlighted “several shortcomings in the EIS” including hydrogeological models which “likely underestimate the reduction in groundwater levels and baseflows”, “inappropriate” assessment of the neutral or beneficial test, “a lack of conservatism in predictions”, and concerns about coal dust emissions which are “likely to deteriorate water quality”.

“WaterNSW has made it clear that building a new coal mine is incompatible with ensuring the security of the drinking water supply for millions of people in Sydney and it is time for the Berejiklian Government to step in and stop this crazy project,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The submission from WaterNSW is damning. The age of coal is over and we should not be putting digging up even more coal ahead of Sydney’s drinking water supply.

“It is clear that any genuine application of the ‘neutral or beneficial effect’ test, which is supposed to apply to all developments in the catchment, precludes the development of this coal mine. That should be the end of the story.

“The community are sick of the uncertainty and of a planning system which has no red lights so it is now up to the NSW Government to show some ticker and say no to Hume Coal,” Mr Buckingham said.

Contact: Jack Gough 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101


Greens expose Santos’ multimillion dollar CSG royalty loophole

MEDIA RELEASE: 1 August 2015

The Greens NSW water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today accused the NSW Government of creating a loophole which has allowed Santos to avoid paying $3.68 million in royalties on the 4,250,938 gigajoules of gas supplied to Wilga Park Power Station in the four years to last month and millions more in the years ahead. The calculations to substantiate this assertion are below.

Last week Santos were granted approval to send all gas produced from 12 existing coal seam gas wells in the Pilliga to their Wilga Park Power Station for 1000 days under a ‘beneficial use’ exemption for gas exploration. The Greens refute Santos’ claim that this is genuine exploration.

Gladys Berejiklian needs to explain why her government has created a loophole which allows Santos, and Santos only, to avoid paying millions of dollars in royalties,” said Greens Energy Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham.

Santos has clearly been given special treatment with a loophole in the regulations which allows them to avoid paying royalties when any similar new development would be required to.”

“The NSW Government and Santos should also drop the outrageous fiction that this is genuine gas exploration. Santos have been operating these wells for up to 8 years, they have submitted a detailed application for a commercial 850 well gas field and they have dodged the key question about how much more gas will be sent to the power station than would otherwise have been flared.”

“Santos were only seeking between one and three years to operate the Tintsfield and Dewhurst wells when they got approval in 2009 and 2013. They have now been operated these wells for between four and eight years and there is no justification for an additional 1000 days of testing. There was certainly no detail in the woefully inadequate development application from Santos that has just been approved. 

“This whole process stinks.  It is coal seam gas production by stealth and a multi-million dollar taxpayer subsidy to Santos.

“The Greens oppose coal seam gas as unnecessary, unwanted and unsafe.  We do not need a new fossil fuel in an age of climate change and competitive renewable energy technologies,” Mr Buckingham said.

Contact: Jack Gough 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

Santos NSW CSG production and lost royalties


(from 18 July)

2015 2016 2017 2018

(to 30 June)

Bibblewindi West (MSCF) 47,960 340,879 433,887 519,421
Bibblewindi East (MSCF) 233,194 844,192 755,588 572,383
Total (MSCF) 281,154 1,185,071 1,091,804 1,091,804
Converted to GJ (MSCF  = 1.0551 GJ) 296,646 1,250,368 1,151,962 1,151,962 400,000
East coast average wholesale gas price (ex. transmission costs) about $7 $7.60 $9.78 $9.19 $8.60
Estimate of well-head value $2,076,522 $9,502,796 $11,266,188 $10,586,530 $3,440,000
Total well-head value $36,872,036
Estimate of royalty (10% of well-head value) $207,652 $950,280 $1,126,619 $1,058,653 $344,000
Total lost royalties $3,687,205


  • Based on the previous Gas Price Trends Review 2015 report, the gas price for 2014 was about $7.
  • According to the ACCC Gas Inquiry 2017-2020 interim report from April this year the “range of producer prices for gas supply in 2018 under the more recent GSAs is between $8.60/GJ and $9.80/GJ”.


Under the exemption Section 28B of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991, which allows the beneficial use of gas yielded through prospecting, it is left up to the regulations whether a royalty is payable.  The regulations were silent on this until 2016 and so no royalty was payable before then.  When the 2016 regulations brought in a 10% royalty for beneficial use (Section 16) the government put in a loophole which means that if the recovery and use is authorised by a relevant development consent granted under Part 3A, 4 or 5.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 before 18 December 2015 they don’t have to pay. Santos’ Wilga Park power station is the only project to which this loophole applies.

Timeline of Wilga Park development applications and modifications

  • On 18 July 2014 the Government approved an amendment to the Wilga Park Power station approval allowing the use of coal seam gas from existing or future wells within PAL 2 or PPL 3 at the Wilga Park Power Station.
  • Following concerns raised by the Wilderness Society, the Planning Department’s assessment report at the time specifically mentioned that Santos’ use of the gas from their test wells should not be open ended, saying:

“the Department is concerned to ensure that the resource appraisal period for carriage of gas from PAL 2 and its use at Wilga Park is not open-ended. It considers that a reasonable time period should be included in the modified approval to provide an upper limit for the use of gas gathered from wells within the PAL, before a modified approval for ‘petroleum production’ and a consequent PPL, is required for continued use.”

They then said that “Santos considered that an appropriate period for future resource appraisal was 3 years, from the date of any modification approval.”

And so, despite Santos seeking unlimited and open ended use of the gas in their application, the approval specifically restricted it to 3 years as so that it “is limited to a reasonable period”

1.4A Gas may only be received for use at the Wilga Park Power Station from wells located within Petroleum Assessment Lease 2:

a) for a period of 3 years from the date of approval of Modification 3, in the case of any existing well; and

b) for a period of 3 years from the date of commencement of such receipt, in the case of any well which is drilled following the date of approval of Modification 3.

Note: The purpose of this condition is to ensure that the supply of gas to the power station arising from gas flow appraisal at exploration and/or appraisal wells is limited to a reasonable period. Supply of such gas to the power station from wells located within a Petroleum Assessment lease for longer periods would require further modification to this approval.

  • Santos then applied in August 2016 to expand this ability to use gas at Wilga Park so that it applied to all their “existing or future wells within PEL 238” –  they subsequently dropped this application.
  • In May 2017 they applied to scrap the 3 year limitation on use of the gas and extend it for another 3 years “to enable the ongoing use of natural gas extracted from coal seams in the Wilga Park Power Station whilst continuing to assess and appraise the gas.” This was approved in July 2017.
  • Santos then applied for a further extension of their beneficial reuse, along the lines of the withdrawn 2016 application, for gas “from the Tintsfield and Dewhurst South 26-31 pilot wells located within PEL 238.” The justification given for this increased use is to “increase the supply of gas available to the power station”.  This will mean Santos is able to extract gas from an additional 12 coal seam gas wells in the Pilliga without any Environmental Approval – essentially production by stealth.  This was approved on 23 July 2018.
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