Nats urged to 'put up or shut up' on expired PELs

Department of Regional NSW to consider expired PELs while Independent MP Justin Field calls for action

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There are 12 expired Petroleum Exploration Licences covering the North West, stretching from Dubbo up to the Queensland border. Photo: File Photo

There are 12 expired Petroleum Exploration Licences covering the North West, stretching from Dubbo up to the Queensland border. Photo: File Photo

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Consideration of zombie PELs comes after motion by grassroots branch in 2019.

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EXPIRED Petroleum Exploration Licenses will still be reviewed, according to the Deputy Premier despite a push from grassroots National Party members to extinguish them.

The Boggabri branch of the party put forward a successful motion at last year's state conference for the "zombie PELs" to come to an end.

However, a spokesperson for NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro said all expired PELs would be assessed.

"Following the Independent Planning Commission's determination to approve the Narrabri Gas Project, the Department of Regional NSW will now recommence the assessment of outstanding PELs," the spokesperson said.

"All PEL renewals are assessed and decided based on the legislative requirements of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991."

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When asked by The Land what Mr Barilaro's position on the PELs was, the spokesperson declined to answer but said action was being taken to act on the motion passed at last year's conference.

"Any renewed titles would need to comply with the requirements of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and the conditions imposed on the PEL including adherence to all codes of practice for environmental management, rehabilitation, produced water and community consultation," the spokesperson said.

Since the motion was passed in July last year, the NSW IPC's approval of the Santos' Narrabri Gas Project has sparked fears expired PELs could be reactivated.

Independent MP Justin Field is calling on Nationals MP to put up or shut up regarding expired PELs.

Independent MP Justin Field is calling on Nationals MP to put up or shut up regarding expired PELs.

However, Boggabri Nationals branch president Pat Murphy, whose members lead the motion at the party's state conference last year, said he was confident the party could help reach a happy medium between the agriculture and gas sectors.

"It's important to remember Labor handed out these PEL's like lollies or lucky-door prizes at a school fete and a lot of people, myself included ,are happy and excited that John [Barilaro] and his department are continuing to assess the outstanding expired PELs," Mr Murphy said.

"Whether your friend or foe of the gas industry- put that to one side for the moment-the original intent of the motion was to create a win-win situation for landholders under the outstanding PELs and for the Santos-Pilliga project.

"By drawing clear precise lines in the sand so all stakeholders can have the confidence needed both in business and personally."

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Independent MP Justin Field, who currently has legislation before the Upper House to can the PELs, said it was "time for the Nationals MPs to put up or shut up on these zombie PELs."

"The Nationals Party members wanted these expired licences extinguished and so do many farmers across the North West of the state," Mr Field said.

"Whose bidding are Nationals MPs like Deputy Premier John Barilaro doing when he keeps open the prospect of renewing some of these licences?

"Some of the most productive agricultural areas of the state are at risk of these licences.

"There is legislation ready to go in the state Upper House to cancel these licences and if the Nationals MPs won't stand up for their electorates, I'll be calling on the Parliament to step in and protect agricultural land and water."

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