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Central North Rugby Union Deciders today in Walcha

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The major semi action will get underway at Walcha's Captain Cook Oval from 11.25am with the under 19s match between Pirates and Narrabri. This will be followed by the second grade clash between Pirates and Moree at 12.55pm, with the women's sevens match between Gunnedah and Narrabri to be held at 2.35pm. The first grade fixture between Walcha and Narrabri will kick-off at 3pm.

Mining watchdog suspends Narrabri Coal's exploration licence

Northern Daily Leader - Jamieson Murphy

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THE state's mining watchdog has suspended the exploration licence of Narrabri Coal, for building unauthorised tracks in the Pilliga Forest.

The long-wall mine, which forms part of Whitehaven Coal's operations, was found to be in breach of its licence following a state-wide compliance blitz in June.

More than a dozen hollow trees, which provide important habitat to native animals, were knocked down. The unauthorised paths also failed to divert around environmentally sensitive areas.

Resources Regulator head honcho Anthony Keon said the mine's actions showed a "comprehensive failure" to follow "fundamental regulatory obligations".

"The construction of the unauthorised tracks resulted in significant environmental harm," Mr Keon said.

"Exploration activities are subject to strict conditions in order to ensure appropriate environmental protections.

Citizen science group, the Leard Forest Node, has been monitoring the mine's "progressive incursion" in to the Pilliga forest for a couple of years, spokeswoman Anna Christie said.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg, the Narrabri Coal mine has been flying under the radar for several years," Ms Christie said.

She was glad to see meaningful action taken against the mine, rather than just "a fine and a tap of the wrist".

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The suspension will remain in place until the mine conducts a full review of its compliance systems and can satisfy the watchdog that appropriate controls have been put in place.

Five other joint-venture partners also had their exploration licence suspended. The licence holders acknowledged the offending behaviour and offered to suspend all drilling and clearing activities.

The mine will be able to continue operating, however the suspension stops it from expanding or investigating new sites.

Whitehaven CEO Paul Flynn accepted that on this occasion the company failed to properly obverse its exploration obligations

"Based on our inquiries to date, the circumstances and communication failures that led to this outcome are unacceptable," Mr Flynn said.

"Whitehaven took immediate corrective action following the Regulator's site inspection, suspending all exploration activity and commissioning an independent audit and investigation to determine necessary corrective actions.

"The company is committed to ensuring all relevant issues are identified and addressed before exploration activities at Narrabri can resume and will continue to cooperate fully with the NSW Resources Regulator to achieve this outcome."

Coal seam gas moratorium bill put forward by NSW MLC Justin Field

Northern Daily Leader - Jamieson Murphy

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AN independent politician has put forward a bill to establish a moratorium on all coal seam gas projects in the state.

The private member's bill, introduced to the NSW upper house by MLC Justin Field, would put a halt to Santos' Narrabri Gas Project, establish no-go zones for CSG including agricultural land and introduce a public interest test for proposed developments.

Mr Field said the bill was modelled off a moratorium put forward by Labor in 2015, and was hopefully it would be widely supported.

"The Greens, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Animal Justice Party and Christian Democratic Party have all previously voted for, or supported, legislation or policies that endorse a moratorium on coal seam gas," Mr Field said.

"With those parties on board we can pass a coal seam gas moratorium bill through the NSW Legislative Council.

"The community have long opposed coal seam gas development in NSW and now it is time for the parliament to act."

Mr Field said the bill would renew the pressure on the government, and in particular the Nationals, who lost the seat of Barwon at the recent election to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, in part to CSG and water-related issues surrounding the Santos project.

"Santos have failed to address genuine concerns by the community and government agencies about their project and have breached the agreement they struck with the government in 2014," Mr Field said.

"There are significant water management and waste salt issues that have not been resolved from the company.

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Andrew McConville, CEO of gas industry body APPEA, said there was no reason NSW couldn't have a safe and sustainable CSG industry, like Queensland has had for more than 20 years.

"Repeated independent inquiries, including by NSW Chief Scientist, have found there are no risks associated with onshore gas development that can't be managed, mitigated or eliminated by an appropriate regulatory framework - which NSW has in place," he said.

"The answer to addressing NSW's gas needs is developing new supply - not further regulation or imposing bans on onshore gas development."

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