Robert Quirk at his cane farm.
Robert Quirk at his cane farm. John Gass

Sugarcane fields not protected under new CSG rules

THE Tweed's sugar industry will not be protected from coal seam gas mining under new regulations introduced by the State Government last week.

While the new rules will see a 2km buffer zone around residential and urban areas, but it will be open slather on the cane fields.

Tweed Sugar Cane Growers Association president Robert Quirk is alarmed sugar cane farms on the Tweed will not be protected.

"We are very concerned that the government didn't choose to protect the sugar cane farms from exploration or drilling," he said.

"A small well the size of a tennis court every 400m2 makes harvesting and drainage of the cane impossible while gas escaping from wells can cause fires.

"Intensive cultivation is just not compatible whatsoever with CSG and we will do whatever it takes to protect our farming land."

Tweed Lock the Gate president Micheal McNamara said sugar cane farmers, eco-tourism operators, and many residents in the Tweed Valley had been left out of the zoning because they were not currently zoned 'residential'.

"Unless a farm is within a 2km distance to residential zoning, CSG drilling is possible," he said.

NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard made it clear CSG development would go ahead in areas not isolated as bio-strategic-agricultural-land.

"We will fully support mining proposals which are in the right places and pass our rigorous and independent assessment system," Mr Hazzard said.

The new rules will see a Gateway panel of six independant scientists advising on CSG license applications, but they will not have the power of veto.

Most sugar cane farming areas are exempt from the panel review and in effect open for business to mining giants like Metgasco, Dart Energy and Arrow Energy.


CSG Exclusion Residential Zones

  • Tweed Heads West
  • South Tweed Heads
  • Banora Point
  • Bilambil
  • Murwillumbah
  • Hinterland areas zoned residential tourist, tourism or rural living

Subject to the 'Gateway' Panel of scientists

  • Cudgen Plateau
  • Tweed Heads South
  • Tweed Heads West
  • Chinderah, Cudgen and Kingscliff
  • Catchment areas in Murwillumbah
  • Catchment areas from Kingscliff to Brunswick Heads

Not excluded

  •  Sugar cane farms

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