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Perrottet government to outlaw offshore gas drilling

Former NSW Liberal treasurer Matt Kean has been appointed the new chair of the Climate Change Authority by the federal Labor government.

Former NSW Liberal treasurer Matt Kean has been appointed the new chair of the Climate Change Authority by the federal Labor government. Photo: AAP

The Perrottet government will rewrite planning laws to permanently block offshore gas drilling along the NSW coast.

It comes after the Federal Court quashed former prime minister Scott Morrison’s decision to block an extension of the PEP-11 permit, reopening the door to potential gas drilling across a large stretch of NSW waters.

The permit covers a petroleum well off the coast between Wollongong and Newcastle, covering about 8200 square kilometres.

The court’s ruling returns the decision-making power on whether the area can be explored and drilled to the NSW and federal governments, and the holder of the PEP-11 permit, Asset Energy.

The lead up to the court’s decision launched a wave of opposition across the political spectrum in NSW, with Labor, the Greens and independent MPs voicing their opposition to the permit.

Energy Minister Matt Kean said the Liberal-National coalition was gravely concerned about the environmental impact of the project and had consistently opposed it.

“That is why we are legislating our long-held policy on offshore gas mining in NSW waters,” he said.

The plan is contingent on the government winning a fourth term in office on March 25.

The NSW government’s plan includes converting existing policy preventing coal, gas, mineral and petroleum mining off the coast into law, and lobbying the federal government to prevent future mining in Australian waters.

The policy seeks a “responsible and balanced” approach to limit offshore mining, except for gathering sand to tackle beach erosion.

Mr Kean said the policy would make it clear to private companies looking to drill off the NSW coast they should apply elsewhere.

“The NSW Liberal and Nationals will always stand up for the environment and our communities that care deeply about our pristine coastline,” Mr Kean said.

– AAP

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