Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘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

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.

Greens celebrate big win for western Sydney as waste incinerator finally refused

MEDIA RELEASE – 19 July 2018

NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today said the decision by the Independent Planning Commission to refuse the proposed western Sydney waste to energy incinerator was a huge win for the residents of western Sydney and the lungs of all the people in Sydney. He called on the government to back the Greens bill to ban such incinerators within 15km of residential areas to secure clean air into the future.

The Independent Planning Commission found that “the project is not in the public interest because there is uncertainty around:

  • The project’s impact on air quality due to the uncertainty around the project’s emissions and the results of the applicant’s predicted modelling;
  • The project’s impacts on human health;
  • The suitability of the site; and
  • The relationship between air quality impacts and water quality impacts.”

“This is a fantastic win for the residents of western Sydney and the Greens, who have been fighting this toxic proposal for years,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“I am concerned that the Commission has made it clear in their determination that under the current planning process the level of public opposition to the project was not a relevant consideration in the determination and therefore there is still the possibility that a new amended application could be approved.

“The government should now back the Greens Bill which will ban large waste to energy incinerators within 15 kilometres of residential zonings to end this uncertainty permanently.

“Incinerating waste is not green energy. We should be seeking to reduce, reuse and recycle waste rather than create a large incinerator and permanent waste stream to feed its boilers,” he said.

The Greens have introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Waste Incinerator Facilities-Residential Exclusion Zones) Bill 2017 to ban large waste to energy incinerators within 15 kilometres of residential zonings.

Contact: Jack Gough – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

Disgraceful Nationals attack public meeting on Darling River

MEDIA RELEASE – 15 April 2018

The National Party has attacked a public meeting being held in Broken Hill this coming Monday evening, labelling concern about the Darling River and allegations of corruption in water management as “playing politics”. Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham slammed the Nationals saying the public was sick of their cover up the growing scandal around the management of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Nationals meme on Broken Hill meeting

“The Darling River is in a precarious state and serious allegations of corruption have been made and are being investigated by Independent Commission Against Corruption, yet the Nationals dismiss this meeting as “playing politics”. Its a disgrace that they would dismiss the significant public concern about what’s happening to the Darling River.  They are the one’s playing politics,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“We’ve got a river running dry, irrigators being charged with water theft, water bureaucrats and former ministers being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and a $500 million pipeline being constructed that is deeply unpopular in Broken Hill but a smash hit with upstream cotton irrigators.

“These are all serious issues, and it is responsible for politicians such as Labor’s shadow water minister Chris Minns and myself to discuss these with community and take their concerns back to parliament.

“The National Party, let by water minister Niall Blair have done everything they can to downplay, stonewall and cover up allegations of water theft and corruption and mismanagement. That is playing politics!

“It’s the National Party’s cosy relationship with big cotton irrigators and their incompetence and mismanagement has led to the dire state of the Darling River and the construction of a very expensive pipeline.”

“The Greens are willing to work with any other party or group or person who is committed to reviving the Darling River.”

Broken Hill meeting meme

NSW Government heading in wrong direction with IPART proposed reduction of solar tariff

MEDIA RELEASE – 20 March 2018

NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today said the NSW Government  was heading in the wrong direction on solar energy after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) released an  issues paper on solar feed-in tariffs which flagged a reduction in the benchmark price paid for households generating solar electricity from 11 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017/18 to 8 cents in 2018/19. He called for the government to change the criteria to assess solar feed-in tariffs to recognise the multitude of benefits solar energy brings.

NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“If the NSW Government are serious about supporting renewable energy then they should be saying wrong way, go back to IPART,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“NSW should be ensuring that electricity retailers pay a fair price for the solar electricity that is fed into the grid from roof top systems, which takes into account the avoided health and carbon costs solar brings by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt.

“This proposed reduction in the benchmark price paid for households generating solar electricity from 11 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017/18 to 8 cents in 2018/19 is a direct result of the NSW Governments failure to instruct IPART to assess the true value of solar power.

“Unless the NSW Government steps in then this decision will be a huge hit to the electricity bills of over 400,000 households and businesses that have installed solar panels in NSW and will act as a disincentive to further uptake of solar panels.

“Solar power is working to even out demand peaks and reduce electricity prices. Households and businesses should be rewarded for this service, not penalised for the benefit of big coal,” Mr Buckingham said.

NSW Greens Renewable Energy Spokeswoman Tamara Smith said:

“The Greens recognise that solar power leads to cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions and cheaper electricity.  The uptake of solar power should be encouraged and that is why the Greens have introduced a Bill into the NSW Parliament to ensure a minimum, fair price for solar.”

Tamara Smith has introduced the Electricity Supply Amendment (Fair Price for Solar) Bill 2018 into parliament on behalf of the Greens.  The Bill will replicate the Victorian criteria for establishing a mandatory minimum price which includes valuing the avoided health and carbon costs solar brings by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt, and by recognising the reduced spend of infrastructure.

Quote from the Issues Paper where IPART flags a reduction in the solar feed in tariff:

Our preliminary modelling is suggesting that in 2018-19, on average across the day the value of solar exports is around 8-9 cents per kilowatt hour for solar electricity. This is lower than our forecast of the value of solar electricity across the day for 2017-18. The main reason for this is that ASX baseload electricity contract prices are indicating that average prices for wholesale electricity next year will be lower in 2018-19, as substantial new generation capacity is expected to enter the market (mainly large-scale renewables). These suggest average wholesale prices will fall to around 8c/kWh, compared to around 11c/kWh when we published our Final Report last year.

Quote from the Issues Paper where IPART recognises the benefits of solar:

In addition, the increasing penetration of solar electricity in NSW over time has meant that less electricity needs to be produced by power stations in the middle of the day and into the afternoon. Over the years this has contributed to a lower number of price spikes for wholesale electricity over the whole afternoon period when solar is exporting to the grid.

Therefore on average, the difference between the price of wholesale electricity when solar is exporting, compared to the price of wholesale electricity at all other times is reducing.”

Government dragged kicking and screaming to actually enforce water law

MEDIA RELEASE – 8 March 2018
The NSW Greens welcome the announcement of prosecutions on water compliance matters, but said the government was dragged kicking and screaming into actually enforcing water laws and had announced the prosecutions today as a smokescreen from a damning Ombudsman’s report on Water NSW providing false figures to the Ombudsman that is due to be tabled in NSW Parliament later today.

NSW greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“It’s smokescreen that these prosecutions have been announced on the day when the Ombudsman will table a damning report on how Water NSW provided false figures in an effort to cover up the lack of enforcement.

“This government has been dragged kicking and screaming into actually having to enforce water law.  The lack of compliance has undermined public confidence in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“Water theft has real world consequences for the environment and downstream communities. The Darling River is bone dry or suffering blue-green algae breakouts because of over extraction by upstream irrigators.

“The fish rots from the head down, and successive National Party water ministers have created a culture that has resulted in a lack of compliance and favourable treatment of big irrigators.”

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