AGL ENERGY has received state government approval to frack four pilot coal seam gas wells in Gloucester, triggering a wave of community outrage.
Energy minister Anthony Roberts also renewed AGL’s petroleum exploration licence for the region for another six years yesterday after ‘‘rigorous assessment by the Office of Coal Seam Gas.
‘‘AGL must meet the NSW government’s strict licence conditions in relation to community consultation, groundwater monitoring and modelling, produced water management, well integrity and fracture stimulation,’’ he said.
Groundswell Gloucester chairwoman Julie Lyford called on the government to halt fracking until the reports from independent expert scientists had been received.
‘‘The fact that they are ignoring very serious, professional and highly credited scientific voices across Australia and disregarding all of the major findings around the world about the dangers of CSG extraction is breathtaking,’’ she said.
NSW Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said residents had been given less protection than those near gas projects in Western Sydney.
‘‘It’s outrageous that the people of Gloucester will have fracking within a few hundred metres of their homes,’’ he said.
AGL said it would conduct its pilot program in a safe manner, and would minimise the disturbance to locals.
AGL chief executive Michael Fraser said the Gloucester gas project could secure a local supply for NSW, with the potential to provide 20 per cent of the state’s needs.
‘‘At present NSW produces less than five per cent of its own gas and imports the rest from interstate.’’ he said.