Protesters made their feelings known when CSG miner Metgasco was granted licences to search for gas in the Clarence Valley and Northern Rivers.
Protesters made their feelings known when CSG miner Metgasco was granted licences to search for gas in the Clarence Valley and Northern Rivers.

Clarence protected from CSG mining despite demand for gas

THE Clarence Valley and Northern Rivers have been quarantined from coal seam gas mining despite the $2 billion deal between the NSW and Federal governments to boost gas supply.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian, this week announced a landmark energy deal that promised to drop gas prices in the state.

Five years after the Northern Rivers community saw off CSG miner Metgasco the Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, has ruled out coal seam gas mining in his electorate.

"After what happened last time, that won't be happening," Mr Gulaptis said.

"The community showed us exactly how they felt about CSG mining so I can't see any CSG licences being granted here."

The deal, announced on Thursday, aims to lower energy bills, strengthen the grid and reduce emissions throughout the state, through the "critical" supply of an additional 70 petajoules of gas into the east coast market.

Prime Minister Morrison said it would secure energy supply as Australia transitions to renewable power.

"There is no credible plan to lower emissions and keep electricity prices down that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel," he said.

"This plan is about getting greater access to that gas, as a vital accompaniment to our record investment in renewables."

For the plan to work, NSW would receive $960 million in federal funding to upgrade the energy grid and invest in emissions reductions initiatives.

The state and federal governments would jointly underwrite the grid upgrades in the HumeLink interconnector from Snowy Hydro to southern NSW, as well as the Queensland-NSW interconnector.

The plan also secured coal supply for the Mount Piper Power Station, which supplies around 15 per cent of the state's energy.

Low coal supplies from the nearby Springvale mine have placed the station in "coal conservation mode" since September.

Just where the gas will come from has been a source of conjecture.

Market analysts have noted the 70 petajoule figure matched the expected yield from the contentious Santos project on the Narrabri CSG fields.

Ms Berejiklian said the Santos project was not the only possible source.

"We have two or three options before us including terminals, import terminals at Port Kembla and potentially Newcastle in addition to the Narrabri project … one of those three things will satisfy our arrangements," she said.

Vanessa Petrie, the CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions, which promotes industry use of alternative energy sources, said the deal pushed NSW closer to economic irrelevance.

"Gas only leads to higher energy prices, more greenhouse gas pollution, and worsening climate impacts such as the unprecedented bushfires that NSW has seen this summer," she said.

"We should be leapfrogging over this environmentally and financially disastrous fossil fuel, and backing clean, affordable clean-energy innovation like renewable hydrogen and a fully renewables-powered industry sector instead."

Ms Petrie said that just this week, Swedish and Finnish steel firm Svenskt Stål AB announced it would make fossil fuel-free steel by 2026, using emissions-free, renewable hydrogen instead of coal or gas.

"Other countries are racing ahead of Australia to manufacture the zero-carbon products that will keep the revenue and investment coming in," she said.

"The world is passing us by, but we can't look beyond our short-term, ideological obsession with climate-damaging fossil fuels.

"Our elected leaders must listen to experts, scientists and investors, and do what's needed to ensure manufacturing and industry jobs in NSW, while supporting the wellbeing and livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on them."