THE state government has doubled down on its support of the gas industry in the hopes the sector can open up new economic opportunities for regional NSW.
Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro announced the government's Strategic Opportunities for Gas in Regional NSW statement in Narrabri on Tuesday.
The statement outlines the potential for a potential Narrabri Special Activation Precinct (SAP), which is hoped to create new jobs and fuel regional economic development.
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"Today [Tuesday] we are releasing the NSW Government's statement of support for the future growth of the gas industry, backing investments like the Narrabri Gas Project that will provide a $3.6 billion economic boost and create around 1,500 new jobs," Mr Barilaro said.
"This gas project opens up a wide range of industry growth opportunities in manufacturing everything from plastics to fertiliser and construction materials.
"This is great news for the local economy, and it is why the government will now start investigating a potential SAP in Narrabri.
"We want to create a thriving energy hub in Narrabri focused on value-added production and manufacturing to power long-term job opportunities across the region."
The Deputy Premier's announcement comes after the NSW Independent Planning Commission gave Santos' Narrabri Gas Project the green light in September.
Business NSW regional manager Joe Townsend welcomed the announcement of a potential SAP in Narrabri, saying the investment would make it "easier and more attractive for businesses to set up in regional NSW."
"There's no doubt our region will strongly benefit from the jobs and economic growth generated should this precinct go ahead," Mr Townsend said.
"Governments commitment to investigate a SAP in Narrabri provides businesses the opportunity to be based in a master-planned zone which has cut red and green tape, streamlining planning and environmental approvals to within 30 days.
"Today's announcement complements the IPC's recent decision to approve the Narrabri Gas Project, which will secure the state's future gas supply and protect 250,000 manufacturing jobs that depend on a reliable and affordable gas supply.
"Leading manufacturers are thriving in regional NSW with a skilled local workforce, low-cost environment, access to markets, and world-class research and development centres."
However, not all sectors of the community are pleased with the development.
Narrabri-based energy consultant Rowan Boehm said that Barilaro's backing of gas runs contrary to the energy direction set by the NSW State Government's support for renewable energy.
"Renewable energy is the future for NSW and the North West," Mr Boehm said.
"The NSW Government's own roadmap defines this very clearly, and it also very clearly does not identify the need for a major gas hub for the region."
"Renewable energy can establish abundant low cost energy, new jobs, new skills and a new resilience for this region. It's the direction that the world is moving in, with only a couple of people in NSW still clinging to the past.
"Gas might have been the right direction 50 years ago, but that's not the case today."
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