Submission to the Select Committee on Unconventional Gas

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Stop Coal Seam Gas Sydney Inc

Thank you for this opportunity to make a submission.

Stop CSG Sydney formed in 2010 to oppose the test drill and mining of coal seam gas in St Peters, a suburb just 7 kilometres from the Sydney GPO.

Lessons from St Peters, Sydney

Residents found out by accident about plans to drill for coal seam gas at a privately-owned recycling facility adjoining Sydney Park.

They made enquiries when they noticed a drill rig and workers on the proposed mine site, which comprised an old industrial waste dump and a transfer depot for recyclable building materials.

We found that the NSW government had given Macquarie Energy approval to explore for coal seam gas (CSG) near homes, schools and parklands.

In fact the company had a licence (PEL 463) to explore across 189,000 hectares from Bundeena in the south to Rooty Hill in the west to Gosford in the north. It covered the whole of the Sydney basin as well as major water catchment areas.

The licence had been granted by the ALP government in 2008 (along with 37 others across NSW) without consultation with any of the councils covered by the licence. Licences were issued for $1000 for 1 million hectares.

St Peters was the first attempt by a company to undertake a CSG test drill in an urban setting in Australia. It’s not surprising the community reacted strongly to its quiet approval following publicity by Stop CSG Sydney and others.

Queensland, around Tara, provided enough evidence of the risks associated with exploration and mining for CSG and unconventional gas, and Gaslands, a film made by Josh Fox in the US, documented the risks.

One of the challenges in talking to neighbours about the gas exploration was being greeted with sheer disbelief: “Surely it’s a hoax”, was a common response.

It was no hoax.

In May 2011, Dart Energy (a subsidiary of Macquarie Energy) applied to extend its exploration licence to a production licence. It told the ASX (Stock Exchange) it planned to drill 10 wells on the site and wanted to start in September-October of that year. It told Stop CSG Sydney it was 95% certain that it would go on to produce gas on the site.

Stop CSG Sydney feared that a production licence would be granted by the then Keneally Labor NSW government and remove authority to make decisions about the use of the land out of the hands of the local council — Marrickville Council.

The Australia Institute’s Matt Grudnoff has outlined the risks of unconventional gas miningcomprehensively in its booklet Fracking the Future: Busting Industry Myths About Coal Seam Gas here.

After residents made their fears known and a campaign had started, Marrickville Council joined the call on the NSW government to stop to the test drill.

Because Dart Energy’s licence was due to expire in October 2011, Stop CSG attempted to meet with the NSW Minister for Mining Chris Hartcher, over many months. He never made himself available.

For many months, Stop CSG Sydney tried to organise a meeting with Dart CEO Robert De Weijer because he had publicly promised to consult with local communities. Eventually, he agreed to a date and the meeting took place at the St Peters Town Hall in 2011 where, in a standing room only hall, De Weijer and company officials were politely, but firmly, argued with.

History of PEL 463 — covering the Sydney basin

This short history of the venture by Macquarie Energy, later taken over by Dart Energy, into exploration and mining for coal seam gas in St Peters between 2010 and 2014 sheds light on a number of the issues being investigated by the Senate Select Committee.

  • The ALP government originally issued the exploration licence — PEL 463 — to Macquarie Energyand it was re-issued by the Coaltion without adequate consultation with local government authorities or communities nor having undertaken a study the suitability of the Sydney Basin for gas exploration and mining. It was due to expire in November 2015.
  • Under pressure from commuities, which had been developing networks across the state to defend land and water from the industry, the Liberal National Coalition government under the new minister Anthony Roberts commissioned a review of all licences.
  • It also commissioned NSW Chief Scientist, Mary O’Kane, to undertake a 19 month inquiry (starting in 2013) into Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW. The report, released late in 2014, made 16 recommendations which the NSW government agreed to adopt. It formed the basis of the NSW Gas Plan which was released in November 2014, partly to quell a rising movement against CSG in the lead up to the March 2015 state election. Some 266 public submissions were made to this inquiry. Dr Stuart Khan, a scientist who advised the Chief Scientist on her report, told Stop CSG Sydney in November 2014 that he thought it unlikely the unconventional gas industry would be able to carry out its work within the regulatory framework outlined by the report.The industry, predictably, said that it could and would.
  • Stop CSG Sydney launched its Cancel the Licence campaign in August 2014. It called on the NSW government to cancel it on the basis that the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 allows the Energy and Resources Minister to cancel licences because of a company’s failure to meet licence conditions, including drilling within a specified time, financial standing and ability to comply with regulations. We argued that Dart Energy had has failed to meet the conditions of its licence and the community did not want mining in Sydney. Marrickville Council unanimously agreed to sign on its November meeting and committed itself to educate the LGA about the dangers of unconventional gas mining as well as investigate a non-binding poll in the 2016 council elections on CSG as a way of adding pressure to get the licence extinguished — if it hadn’t already been cancelled. Given the new 2-kilometre buffer zone laws, and the community opposition to CSG drilling, it is an anachronism that there still is a licence to drill in an area where more than 4 million people live and work, we said.
  • On March 7, 2015, just before the NSW state election, the Baird government cancelled PEL 463. Following that, a number of other PELs wever cancelled and the industry was given financial compensated — as the new NSW Gas Plan made provision for. A poll of candidates standing for th state seat of Summer Hill, undertaken by Stop CSG Sydney, showed that the Liberals abstaining, and Labor wanting the industry to continue albeit in a more regulated form (see below).

All this shows that community pressure, which had built up over several years, was having an impact on the NSW government and ALP opposition. The Coalition government was forced to act as those opposing the industry with concerns about health issues, water supply and agricultural land contamination were too numerous to igore. Those opposing coal seam gas were also too politically diverse to be able to dismiss.

While some important concessions were won, it is also true that the NSW government was then — and still is now — trying to work out a way for the unconventional gas industry to proceed in NSW. It has suggested that new exploration licences will be issued in regional and remote areas of NSW by mid 2016.

NSW Coalition supports unconventional gas

1. The government and the unconventional gas industry have attempted to use the Chief Scientist’s report to reassure the public that mining coal seam gas is a safe industry.

2. The Chief Scientist’s report indicated that unconventional gas mining could be done safely under specific conditions even though it admitted that the health risks required further investigation. What we take from this is that specific conditions must be created for the industry to be considered safe. With only a few of the recommendations partially implemented, the science has demonstrated that the industry is currently unsafe.

3. The Chief Scientist’s recommendations called for very significant changes to the industry to make its operations safe, but there has been progress on less than half the recommendations in the year since the report was released.

4. An honest and responsible government response to the report would have been to place an immediate moratorium on the industry on any site where the conditions specified were not in place. No such response was made.

5. Instead, we see AGL continuing to mine near homes in south west Sydney suburbs in Camden and Santos pushing ahead with its project in the Pilliga State Forest near Narrabri.

6. The decision by AGL to halt operations in Gloucester in February — the result of sustained community opposition and economic reasons — was greeted with disappointment by the NSW government. Premier Mike Baird immediately asked the industry to propose new projects in NSW.

We submit that the risks of unconventional gas mining are too great for the industry to proceed, a moratorium should be implemented immediately and the industry should be shut down.

Health impacts in and around Camden

The community in Camden, in south west Sydney, are reporting health impacts on families living near the gas wells. Children suffer from skin irritations, eye inflammation and nose bleeds. It is difficult to scientifically establish the link between these chronic conditions and the local gas mining. However the families report that the children’s experience of the illnesses are greatly reduced when they are away from home. The conditions are less severe during school terms, which they are away from home.

The Chief Scientist’s report called for further investigations of the health impacts of unconventional gas in 2014, but so far no such study has begun.

In the absence of local research, we call on the Select Committee to consider the findings of studies such as the study by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York, published in 2014.

It brought together evidence for the risks and harms of unconventional gas from the findings of scientific and medical literature, government, industry and journalism.

It found that: “Public health problems associated with drilling and fracking are becoming increasingly apparent. Documented indicators variously include increased rates of hospitalization, ambulance calls, emergency room visits, self-reported respiratory and skin problems, motor vehicle fatalities, trauma, drug abuse, infant mortality, congenital heart defects, and low birth weight.”

Affected communities are convinced of the dangers of unconventional gas from their own experiences. Politicians and the industry are not listening to the communities and riding roughshod over their concerns. The research is long overdue and will take time to produce results. It must begin urgently.

The November 2015 report Unconventional Gas Exploration and Production: Human Health Impacts and Environmental Legacyby the National Toxics Network gives a very detailed description of the processes used in CSG mining and how and why they are extremely dangerous to the environment and to human health.

The research brings together facts about the toxic chemicals released by the drilling processes used and the toxic chemicals injected during hydraulic fracturing.

We commend this publication to the Committee because of the thorough way in which it explains the many dangers associated with this industry.

Improve the ‘water trigger’

At the Commonwealth level, an amendment to the The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which became known as the “water trigger”, was a welcome addition to legislation covering the coal seam gas industry.

It requires the Minister to assess and determine coal and coal seam gas mining projects which may affect water supplies, particular ground water, taking into account recommendations of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee.

We support the legislation and call for it to be strengthened through amendments to ensure:

  1. The Minister “must not act inconsistently” with the IESC’s advice when determining a project;
  2. Conditions of consent should be required to reflect the IESC’s advice; and
  3. The Minister must not approve a project until the developer has adequately addressed any concerns raised by the IESC in their report.

It does not make sense that the Minister can choose to ignore the advice of a high level and expensive scientific committee such as the IESC.

The mining industry has proved repeatedly and beyond doubt that it cannot be trusted with the future of this continent’s precious water supplies. We must be able to trust the decisions of the Minister because they are based on scientific evidence.

National regulations must provide communities, and especially traditional owners, with control over the mining industry’s access to land.

The current situation where farmers and traditional owners have no right to stop exploration and mining is abhorrent.

The Great Artesian Basin must be protected from unconventional gas mining.

Mining is the Pilliga State Forest is a great threat to one of our most important national resources. The Great Artesian Basin is necessary for future life in vast areas of Australia and must not be put at risk by short-term exploitation for unconventional gas.

Climate change and methane

While Stop CSG Sydney does not have a formal position on climate change, its members are active in the campaign because we respect and agree with international climate scientists’ warnings about the need to dramatically limit human-induced climate change through uncontrolled fossil fuel emissions. NASA, which is not a radical think-tank, says the same.

The economic benefits are not there

The unconventional gas industry and the politicians who support it have told us frequently, for many years, that we need this industry to supply enough gas for industrial and home use, to stop a price hike in the cost of gas to consumers, to create jobs and to develop rural communities.

We have opposed coal seam gas exploration and mining because the risks are far too high, particularly when much safer renewable energy sources could be rapidly developed to meet Australia’s needs.

We are aware that we may well be paying more for gas as consumers in the future, not because of gas shortages but because the gas being produced is being sent overseas — because the profits for the companies are greater.

It is becoming apparent that a major motivation for the unconventional gas industry push to exploit  gas supplies in Australian in a way that has been demonstrated to be unsafe is to make profits in the international market while the profits are high.

There is evidence that this is a short-term situation and that in future international markets will be dominated by countries which can undercut Australian producers.

Final recommendation: Close down the unconventional gas industry until the science says it is safe

The scientific implications of potentially devastating risks of unconventional gas mining, and of the existence of safe and sustainable energy alternatives, lead Stop CSG Sydney to conclude that the industry must be shut down until the science says it is safe.

We are thankful that the Senate Select Committee is inquiring into the industry and propose that among its recommendations it calls for:

  • An immediate moratorium on existing unconventional gas operations — in Camden and the Pilliga — leading to a permanent ban on unconventional gas mining. This is the only way to protect our water, farm land and health. The companies involved — AGL and Santos in NSW — should retrain those workers and find them new jobs.

A ban would give certainty to other long-standing and economically valuable industries and the people who work in them, such as agriculture and tourism. It would also lead to greater investment in renewable and benign sources of energy.

If no action is forthcoming Stop CSG Sydney recommends that Senator Glenn Lazarus demands a Royal Commission into the industry. This is the only lawful way to force the unconventional gas industry to disclose the toxic nature of the chemicals it uses, and its lack of waste disposal solutions to the toxic chemicals that the fracking process brings up from deep inside the earth.

Links

Stop CSG Sydney

National Toxics Network

National Toxics Network: Unconventional Gas Exploration and Production: Human Health Impacts and Environmental Legacy

Chief Scientist’s report on coal seam gas

Public submissions into the Chief Scientist report

The Australia Institute’s rebuttal of unconventional gas mining myths

NASA

IPCC

Stop CSG Sydney FB page

Sydney residents against coal seam gas FB page

Pip Hinman, president Stop Coal Seam Gas Sydney Inc
on behalf of the committee

A 2015 score card of responses from potential representatives for the NSW seat of Summer Hill. The questionnarie was organised by Stop CSG Sydney.

 

 

Minutes Stop CSG Sydney Annual General Meeting

Stopcsgsyd@climatemarch

Stop CSG Sydney @ People’s Climate March (November 29, 2015). Photo: Nicole Dixon

Minutes Stop CSG Sydney 2015

Saturday November 14, 2015

Minutes:  Pip Hinman
Chair: Adrienne Shilling

Apologies: Lou Steer, Brian Martin, Jenny Seymour, Sandy Thompson

Motion that Adrienne Shilling chairs the meeting and is returning officer

Carried

1. Summary of year’s activities: Pip Hinman, president

Annual report and financial report tabled.

2. Financial report summary: Paul Benedek, treasurer

3. Motions:

That Stop CSG Sydney:

1. Sends its congratulations to Gasfield-Free Northern Rivers activists and supports their action outside the Metgasco AGM in December 16 at 11am, Christie Corporate, Level 4, 100 Walker Street, North Sydney

Carried

2. That we continue to campaign for a gasfield-free NSW;

Carried

3. That we support the Sydney People’s Climate Mobilisation on November 29 starting at the Domain at 1pm.

Carried

AGM Nominations:

President: Pip Hinman
Secretary: Jenny Seymour
Treasurer: Paul Benedek
Committee member: Elle Flikier
Committee member: Mara Bonnaci
Committee member: Marie Flood
Committee member: Kathy Fairfax
Committee member: Jacki Short

Motion: To accept the returning officers’ report.

Carried

Motion:  That Jenny Seymour be Stop CSG Sydney’s public officer.

Carried

Meeting closed 4.40pm.

Annual Report 2015

Stop CSG Sydney Inc.

Stop CSG Sydney is a non-partisan group of concerned residents and citizens who are united around the following objectives:

1.   To permanently stop all coal seam gas and unconventional gas mining activities in St Peters, and across Sydney;

2.   To achieve a moratorium on coal seam gas and other unconventional gas mining projects pending the outcome of a Royal Commission into the long and short-term physical, social, economic and environmental impacts of the industry; and

3.   A ban on hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and similar coal bed ‘stimulation’ technologies and techniques.

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Stop CSG Sydney was formally incorporated on 5 April, 2012. We held our first Annual General Meeting on 27 October, 2013. We held our second Annual General Meeting on 28 September, 2014.

Introduction

The campaign against the unconventional gas industry in NSW over the last few years has been a huge success in slowing down, and in some places halting, the industry.

Just 5 years ago, the gas industry calculated that it could extend from Queensland on the spurious, but beguiling sales pitch of “once-in-a-generation economic opportunities for the state”.

Since 2011, ordinary folk — from the country and city — have forced the unconventional gas industry in NSW into a holding pattern in some instances and a retreat in others.

The community-led campaigns have changed the political landscape and shown what’s possible when movements unite to protect land and water.

However the campaign must continue because:

  • AGL continues to frack in Camden, and wants to in Gloucester;
  • Santos is pursuing its $2 billion Narrabri plan to frack in the Pilliga; and
  • Metgasco is determined to frack at Bentley near Lismore.

The NSW government has also just announced the end of the Petroleum Exploration Licence buy-back scheme, meaning it is open to sell new licences across the state.

Real protections for the Sydney catchment, agricultural land and areas which are close to residents have not been legislated.

Patient and informed networking has been the backbone of the numerous mass rallies, human signs, water walks, blockades, pickets, direct actions and lock ons. They all played a role in forcing the major parties to modify their pro-gas policies before the March state election.

Under pressure from its rural base, we saw the NSW Coalition launch its Gas Plan, cancelling several petroleum exploration licences (including the PEL 463 covering the Sydney Basin) before the March state election.

The NSW ALP also felt the pressure, and has now introduced a bill to rule out gas completely in important parts of NSW — including the water catchment, Pilliga and Northern Rivers.

In the March 2015 election, the National Party — split between support for the industry and needing rural votes — lost a seat to the Greens.

The NSW Coalition has now cancelled (and compensated licence holders) 15 exploration licences — scaling back the area covered by either exploration licences or applications from 60% to 9%.

These gains are significant .However, the campaigns must continue and Stop CSG Sydney is prepared to play its role and looks forward to the challenges.

We — the Stop CSG groups — have an opportunity to show our strength at the People’s Climate marches on November 29 timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate talks in Paris.

It’s important that we do take a stand, and suport the nation-wide marches, because allowing the unconventional gas industry to continue will make Australia a worse climate criminal than it already is.

Cancel the PEL 463 licence camapign

Over the last year our main campaign was to get the coal seam gas exploration licence covering the Sydney basin — PEL 463 — cancelled.

It was successful.

We devised a campaign which included:

  1. Researching the exploration licence history of the PEL;
  2. Appealing to the Energy Minister to:  A) not allow the licence to be sold to UK companyIgas: and B) cancel it on legal, environmental and common sense grounds;
  3. Getting community organisations to support the Cancel the Licence campaign, including University of Sydney National Tertiary Education Union as well as other Stop CSG Groups (CSG Free Western Sydney signed on and helped organise an action);
  4. Approaching local government to sign on. Pip Hinman and Adrienne Shilling addressed Marrickville Council about the campaign and council signed on (unanimously). Council also organised four banners across the LGA declaring Marrickville “CSG free”.
  5. Letter boxing and door knocking in the inner west about the licence cancellation campaign in the lead up to the elections. We approached the Labor, the Greens and Socialist Alliance to help out (and the latter did).
  6. Hosting an election forum with local candidates which included asking them to state their views on cancelling the licence covering the Sydney basin. All agreed with the campaign. On other CSG-related issues we drew up a score card for the website and FB site.
  7. Holding petition and information stalls in the Marrickville Local Government Area —including at Land, Water Future events, local markets, and Dulwich Hill, Marrickville and Newtown Festivals.
  8. Issuing many media releases which led to several articles being published in the local press.
  9. Successfully securing a meeting with the Office of Coal Seam Gas where Lou Steer, Pip Hinman and Daniel Robins (Lock the Gate Alliance) asked a series of questions about the state of the licences in NSW. (Lou Steer wrote up a detailed report for Stop CSG Sydney.)
  10. On March 7, the NSW energy minister Anthony Roberts announced he had cancelled PEL 463. Compensation was also given to the company.

Stop CSG Sydney would like to again thank Karol Florek for his efforts in undertaking the research work for this successful campaign.

CSG Western Sydney and Gasfield Free Northern Rivers groups also ran sympathetic “Cancel the Licence’’ as fracking was happening in the same licence.

Stop CSG Sydney had proposed a large-scale concentrated effort on this campaign to other Stop CSG groups.

Apart from CSG Western Sydney and Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, other anti-fracking groups were skeptical and while it would have been good to have had several “Cancel the Licence’’ campaigns going at the same time that did not happen.

However, when licences started getting cancelled — even with government compensation — everyone was heartened by the result.

Stop CSG Sydney meetings and events 2014-2015 

21 September, 2014: Supporting Land, Water Future event, Climate rally Glebe

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19 October, 2014: Launching the Cancel the Licence campaign at Marrickville Festival

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6 November, 2014: AGL AGM in Angel Place, Sydney (Photo: Pip Hinman)

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November, 2014: Supporting Gloucester residents in their campaign against AGL (Photos: Bernadette Smith)

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November 2014 Newtown Festival (Photo: Bernadette Smith)

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23 November, 2014: Mortdale RSL Combined Stop CSG Groups, pre State Election Meeting for Oatley Electorate about stopping Coal Seam Gas, speakers from Stop CSG Illawarra, The Australia Institute, Doctors for the Environment.

30 November, 2014: Hosted a water scientist Prof Stuart Khan, who contributed to the Chief Scientist’s report on unconventional gas which both the industry and activists believed helped their case.

December 2014: Council banner on display (Photos: Inner West Courier and Peter Boyle)

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December 2014: Supporting the Knitting Nannas’ campaign at MPs offices in Sydney

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28 February, 2015: Supporting the Walk for Water (Photo: Bernadette Smith)

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22 February, 2015: Scorecard of parties in Summer Hill electorate, including talk from Dr Helen Redmond from Drs for the Environment and Dan Robins from Lock the Gate.

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March: licence campaign with The Greens and Stop CSG activists (Photo: Peter Boyle)

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March: Licence cancelled

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PEL 463

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19 April, 2015: Hosted talks with Camden activists and discussions with combined Stop CSG groups re PEL 2, Gloucester and Pillaga.

29 May, 2105: Occupied Country film screening with the filmmaker Jake Lloyd Jones. The film covered a group of NSW farmers who travelled to Tara to meet Queensland farmers and learn about the dangers of unconventional gas. (Photo: Pip Hinman)

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March 25 and June 24 2015: Supported Frackman screenings, and attended a few with a Stop CSG Sydney stall.

July 2015: Pip presented on behalf of Stop CSG Sydney to the national Students of Sustainability conference in Adelaide along with Doctors for the Environment.

Stalls at various markets:


24 
May, 2015: Addison Road Market stall (Photo: Pip Hinman)

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22 August, 2015: Eco-living festival at Annandale (Photo: Pip Hinman)

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Supporting the weekly pickets of AGL (Photo Bernadette Smith)

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August 2015: Supporting the Greens bill to outlaw CSG in NSW (Photos: Pip Hinman)

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We have engaged with communities across NSW about the dangers of unconventional gas, including supporting communities in Camden and Gloucester who are fighting AGL’s drilling and plans to drill.

Petitions

We helped promote the following petitions:

  1. Cancel the licence covering Sydney (for much of the last part of 2014 and the first part of 2015).
  2. Petition to clean up all processes associated with the approvals,   licensing and regulation of the unconventional gas industry.

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Events with other CSG/combined groups

23 November, 2014: Mortdale RSL Combined Stop CSG Groups, pre State Election Meeting for Oatley Electorate about stopping Coal Seam Gas, speakers from Stop CSG Illawarra, The Australia Institute, Doctors for the Environment.

19 April, 2015: held post election discussion with Combined Stop CSG groups to review PEL 2, Gloucester and Pillaga focus.

We have joined others, every Wednesday, from across Sydney and country areas to protest outside AGL’s headquarters in North Sydney against the NSW Government’s announcement to support its plans to start fracking more CSG wells in Gloucester.

Thanks to Elle Flikier for all the technical support at our meetings and events. Thanks to Bernadette Smith and Pip Hinman for the pictures of our campaign work.

We regularly promote actions and activities related to unconventional gas drilling in threatened areas other than our own immediate patch — notably in Bentley, Gloucester and the Pilliga Forest.

Regular meetings

For most of the year, Stop CSG Sydney has been holding meetings on a bi-monthly basis. We have held committee meetings every month at 22 Mountain Street, Ultimo.

We have had one meeting with the other Stop CSG groups concerned about the water catchment on October 25, 2014. (Since then PEL 2 — covering the water catchment areas — has been cancelled.)

Website

It has not been possible to keep stopcsgsydney.org.au up to date during this past year. We are working on a plan to make sure it is regularly updated in 2016.

Facebook

Our main public face has been the Stop CSG Sydney FB page. Thanks to Lou Steer and Pip Hinman for keeping it up to date with our activities, those of other Stop CSG groups and other informational articles.

Newsletter

Thanks to Pip Hinman we have our newsletter going out to our extensive mailing list fortnightly. It acts as a news vehicle as well as promoting events aimed at stopping unconventional gas across NSW.

Stalls and Festivals

Part of Stop CSG’s role is to raise awareness about coal seam gas and its effects on our environment, communities and economies.

We have a part to play in educating people who might otherwise not have heard about CSG or may only be vaguely aware of it.

We always need more volunteers to help educate the people who visit our stalls at events and markets and it is a great way to learn about the issues.

Throughout the year Jenny Seymour has efficiently and reliably co-ordinated volunteers and organised stalls at various venues in the Marrickville municipality, other inner west areas and across Sydney, as follows:

  • Dulwich Hill Village Fair, 14 Sep, 2014
  • Randwick Eco Living Fair, 14 Sep, 2014 (thanks to Rose McMillan for coordinating)
  • Marrickville Festival, 19 Oct, 2014
  • Newtown Festival, 9 Nov, 2104
  • Addison Rd Marrickville Organic Market, 15 Feb, 2105
  • Orange Grove Organic Market, 14 Mar, 2015
  • Frackman stall Dendy Newtown Cinema, 25 Mar, 2015
  • Addison Rd Marrickville Organic Market, 24 May, 2015
  • Frackman stall Roseville Cinema, 24 Jun, 2015
  • Students of Sustainability conference, 4 Jul, 2015 (thanks to Pip  for presenting alongside Doctors for the Environment at this popular students’ conference)
  • Hunters Hill Festival (shared with OLOWOF), 2 Aug, 2015
  • Footprints Eco Festival Annandale  23 Aug, 2015
  • 100th week of AGL protests, 2 Sep, 2015 (thanks to Adrienne)
  • Randwick Eco Living Fair, 13 Sep, 2015 (thanks to Rose McMillan for coordinating).

A special mention here goes to all the volunteers who turn up to help on stalls throughout the year, you are on the front line of our community education work.

Finances

Thanks to the income generated from stalls and Paul Benedek’s financial management our finances remained in a healthy position throughout the year.

(The financial report will be tabled at our AGM on November 14.)

Summary – the way forward

Despite a lot of progress being made — including the pro-gas ALP changing its position and trying to get legislation through the NSW parliament to protect a large part of NSW from the unconventional gas industry — the Baird government seems happy to support drilling in the Camden area, Gloucester and the Pilliga. It has also just announced that NSW is open for fracking business (see above).

It remains to be seen what the attitude will be to Metgasco’s push to get back to Bentley, near Lismore.

While we can and should do what we can to help communities that are on the front line, including visiting the protest camp at Gloucester — we are supporting the state-wide campaign to ban CSG.

We will help promote the People’s Climate March on November 29 as a way of helping promote the need to rapid change away from polluting fossil-fuels such as unconventional gas.

Our campaign stalls and information events are aimed at continuing to draw attention to the government’s contradictory stance towards unconventional gas.

However, given that the immediate threat to the inner west has now gone, our campaign work more involves supporting others on the frontlines.

Stop CSG Sydney remains a dynamic, local, grassroots community group with a place for anyone who is concerned about this risky, invasive industry.

I would like to thank the Committee for their wonderful efforts during the past year. If not for the team’s dedication, Stop CSG Sydney would not have been able to do all the campaigning it has over this past year — even without an immediate threat.

Pip Hinman
President

October 12, 2015

Notice of AGM – Saturday 14th November

Stop CSG Sydney will be holding its AGM for 2015 at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on Saturday November 14 at 4pm (after hearing from Julie Lyford and Melinda Wilson from 2.30pm). The ECOPELLA choir will be performing some of their fantastic anti-fracking songs in the Newtown plaza beforehand. 

You can rsvp to the official facebook invite or turn up on the day!

Flyer for AGM 2015
Flyer for AGM 2015

 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over 2015 and encourage you to join or rejoin Stop CSG Sydney for 2016.( $20/10 concession). We need you to help make NSW CSG Free!

Please fill in the form (attached);

Stop CSG Membership Form_2015

You can deposit your membership direct at:

Bendigo Bank:

Stop CSG Sydney Inc

BSB 633000

Account Number 153872593

(Please leave your name)

PEL 463 cancelled

Cancellation of Sydney CSG licence a win for community action

The cancellation of a CSG licence over Sydney is a win for community action. Now our water catchments need to be protected from CSG mining too.

Stop CSG Sydney has welcomed the news that the Baird government has decided to cancel the coal seam gas licence covering most of metropolitan Sydney – PEL 463.

“Widespread community organising has helped deliver this outcome. The cancellation of this licence will give a big boost of confidence to the campaign to protect land and water which has so far slowed the progress of CSG extraction in NSW”, said Pip Hinman, Stop CSG Sydney president.

PEL 463 was originally issued by the former ALP government, and renewed by the Coalition. It was due to expire in October. The licence area covers 189,000 hectares, spanning most of Sydney and its surrounds, from Gosford in the North, to Waterfall in the South, and past Blacktown in the West. Over 4 million people live in the affected area.

“Clearly, the Baird NSW government is feeling the pressure. Opposition to CSG is widespread across the state. It has splintered the Liberal-National Coalition’s base.

“The cancellation of PEL 463 is welcome – and not a moment too soon. But the community will not stop its work in protecting vital parts of NSW – such as the whole of the water catchment area, the Pilliga and Gloucester – all of which remain under threat.

“We are also concerned that the NSW government is ignoring residents in Camden, in south west Sydney who have to live with AGL’s CSG leaks, drilling under their houses and other threats from the industry”, said Ms Hinman.

“The campaign started in 2010 when residents discovered a CSG test drill was to take place in St Peters – metres from schools, parks and homes. The community got together, organised rallies, film nights, trivia night, a human sign in Sydney Park and much more,” said Louise Steer, Stop CSG Sydney’s public officer.

“The campaign to get the licence cancelled started in July 2014 when we found out Dart Energy was intending to sell the licence to a UK company IGas Inc. The NSW government approved this sale last October.

“Stop CSG Sydney believes that this cancellation is a victory for communities across the state. It should have been done long ago, and IGas doesn’t need $200,000 from the NSW state government as ‘compensation’ “, concluded Ms Steer.

For further comment contact:
Pip Hinman 0412-139-968
Lou Steer 0402-167-566

PEL463 (yellow) covered most of Sydney
PEL463 (yellow) covered most of Sydney

Stopping CSG: What does the NSW Chief Scientist’s report mean for the campaign?

This is Stop CSG Sydney’s last meeting for 2014, and it will be a very interesting one.

Stuart Khan, an engineer from the Universty of NSW, is our guest speaker.

He contributed to the findings of the Chief Scientist’s report on the management and risks associated with produced water from CSG mining.

The CSG industry says it gives the ‘green light’ for increased CSG production.

Anti-CSG activists point to the report’s warning of ‘unintended consequences’.

Stuart was also an expert reviewer of the final report. He will present his perspective of the final report and its implications for the CSG industry and affected communities.

The NSW government has recently released its NSW CSG plan which, it says, is based on accepting all the Chief Scientist’s recommendations.

Come along and find out more. Afternoon tea will be available.

Join and share the Facebook event.

goucester_valley

CAN YOU JOIN THE GLOUCESTER GROUNDSWELL THIS WEEKEND?

Groundswell Gloucester needs your help!

Volunteers have already been out doorknocking the town to survey residents with regards to Coal Seam Gas. And they plan to complete the survey across the entire town over the next two weekends. They will also take peaceful action and have fun along the way. You’re welcome at all the activities or simply one of them for an hour or two.

Doorknocking is an effective way to engage and inform Gloucester residents. We’ll have a simple survey to ask their views. Never door knocked before? You will be provided with a doorknocking kit, Q&A, a brief training and an experienced buddy to doorknock with.

Community actions are a key way to build the visibility of community opposition to CSG fracking. The Gloucester community has been holding a community vigil and regular walks from town to the fracking site. There are lots of different roles to play – please consider coming along!

Whats happening on the weekends?

Fri 31 Oct:
Paddling down the river;
5pm meet and greet by the river, weekend briefing [ exact location TBC ].

Sat 1 Nov:
9am; morning peaceful action. Meet at Ted Woolford rest area.
12noon; meet at Ted Woolford rest area for door knocking briefing (bring a picnic lunch).
1-4pm; door knocking / surveying residents

Sun 2 Nov:
9am; meet at Ted Woolford rest area for door knocking briefing
10am – 1pm; door knocking / surveying residents

 

Fri 7 Nov: bushwalk, meet and greet by the river, weekend briefing [ exact location TBC ].

Sat 8 Nov: morning peaceful action – meet at Ted Woolford rest area.
12noon; meet at Ted Woolford rest area for door knocking briefing (bring a picnic lunch).
1-4pm; door knocking / surveying residents

Sun 9 Nov:
9am; meet at Ted Woolford rest area for door knocking briefing
10am-1pm; door knocking / surveying residents.

For more information & to RSVP, visit;
http://members.landwaterfuture.org.au/visitgloucester

 

Annual Report 2014

Stop CSG Sydney Inc.

 Annual Report 2014

Stop CSG Sydney is a non-partisan group of concerned residents and citizens who are united around the following objectives:

1.      To permanently stop all coal seam gas and unconventional gas mining activities in St Peters, and across Sydney;

2.      To achieve a moratorium on coal seam gas and other unconventional gas mining projects pending the outcome of a Royal Commission into the long and short-term physical, social, economic and environmental impacts of the industry; and

3.      A ban on hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and similar coal bed ‘stimulation’ technologies and techniques.

Stop CSG Sydney was formally incorporated on 5 April 2012. We held our first Annual General Meeting on 27 October 2013. Over the last year, we have conducted numerous activities towards achieving the above objectives.

 Those activities include:

Petitions

We helped promote the following petitions:

·         Shoalhaven:  Protect the Shoalhaven’s land and water – a CSG-free Shoalhaven;

·         Blue Mountains: Clean up all processes associated with the approvals, licensing and regulation of the unconventional  gas industry;

·         Illawarra/Water catchments:  Save our Water Catchment Areas (www.s-o-w-c-a.org).

And we have attended several petition presentations at NSW Parliament followed by debates in the lower house (Legislative Assembly), most recently supporting the North West Alliance.

We are now running our own petition to ask the NSW Government to Cancel the PEL 463 Licence that covers St Peters and a large proportion of the Sydney basin.

We held events or joined with other CSG/combined groups

·         Attended National Day of Climate Action on 17 November;

·         With NSW Greens on 22 February, co-hosted at Leichhardt Town Hall a presentation by John Fenton, Wyoming Farmer from USA who toured NSW to reveal the devastating impacts of unconventional gas drilling on his farm and in his local community;

·         On May 25, screened the documentary Fractured Country, an unconventional invasion at Dulwich Hill.  We invited Nell Schofield local co-ordinator of Our Land Our Water Our Future to introduce the film;

·         Assisted OLOWOF and Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle at their event at Leichhardt Town Hall on 12 June “Don’t Undermine our Water”.  Special guests from the Bentley Blockade Jarmbi (Githabul Ngarakwal) and Simon Clough, Lismore Councillor and Chair of Lock the Gate Alliance educated and inspired us;

·         Attended a forum following the screening of Anna Broinowski’s film Aim High in Creation at Chauvel Cinema on 15 June.  Along with Anna, panel participants were Paddy Manning, journalist, Nell Schofield from OLOWOF and Stop CSG Sydney’s Vice President, Pip Hinman;

·         Supported Stop CSG McArthur – Protect ourWater Community Forum on 29 June at Ingleburn.  Speakers included Jess Moore from Stop CSG Illawarra, Helen Redmond from Doctors for the Environment and Mark Ogge from the Australia Institute. Several Labor and Greens politicians also attended and answered questions from the floor;

·         Joined with thousands of other protesters at the March in March, March in May and the Bust the Budget rally on 6 July;

·         Held a forum with Lismore author/ activist and environmental lawyer, Aidan Ricketts, at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on 25 July at which he gave an overview of the Bentley Blockade near Lismore against imminent unconventional gas drilling by Metgasco;

·         Co-hosted the Knitting Nannas Against Gas with OLOWOF on 9 August at apresentation of their film at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre;

·         Since 7 August, almost every Thursday, we have joined others from across Sydney and country areas to protest outside AGL’s headquarters in North Sydney against the Government’s announcement to support its plans to start fracking more CSG wells in Gloucester. It was at one of these demonstrations that Sydney campaigners presented a statement to an AGL official calling on the Company to commit “In good faith, to not conducting any coal seam gas activity within two kilometres of homes” at the Waukivory Pilot project near Gloucester;

·         Attended an OLOWOF event at Parliament House on 16 September, which included a film screening of Fractured Country and talks by Julie Lyford (Gloucester Groundswell), Mark Ogge (Australia Institute) and Michael Caton (actor);

·         Provided Stop CSG Sydney panel speaker Adrienne Shilling to join Julie Lyford, Melissa Haswell and Mark Ogge at OLOWOF-hosted public event at Blacktown on 16 September and screening of Fractured Country;  and

·         Lou Steer and Sandy Thompson spoke in support of a motion at the Marrickville Council meeting on 15 September to divest from fossil fuels, highlighting the role of coal seam gas (which is actually methane gas) in contributing to climate change.

Thanks to Brian Martin and Elle Flikier, we have had a great technical team when showing movies and audio-visual presentations at our meetings and events.

We regularly promote actions and activities related to unconventional gas drilling in threatened areas other than our own immediate patch – notably in Bentley, Gloucester and the Pilliga Forest.

Blockades 

Josie Evans and Petra Liverani attended the blockade in the Pilliga State Forest in February 2014 to experience first hand the devastation caused.  Of particular note was that aquifer poisoning had recently been revealed.  Uranium leakage at 20 times the acceptable levels was allegedly caused by an exploratory well in the Pilliga Forest at Bibblewindi.  This was uncovered by the Wilderness Society and some local farmers who acquired documents through FOI.  There are currently 54 CSG wells in the Pilliga Forest.  Santos plans to drill a total of 850 gas wells.

Sandy Thompson and Pip Hinman attended the Bentley blockade near Lismore in the Northern Rivers Region in May 2014. They were able to participate in and observe the operation of the protectors’ camp, and took part in the discussions to assess what the licence suspension of Metgasco meant, and next steps to stopping the CSG rollout in NSW.  It was from this experience that the idea arose for Stop CSG Sydney to develop its “Cancel the Licence” (for PEL 463) campaign.

Held or attended meetings 

Our group holds Committee meetings each month, usually at Alpha House, Erskineville.  Thank-you Zio Le Deux for arranging this venue.  We have averaged one general meeting per month held at Seaview Street Community Hall in Dulwich Hill. Thanks to Adrienne Shilling for arranging venues, agendas, minutes and following up on organisational tasks.

In addition, representatives from our Committee attended two meetings of the combined Stop CSG groups’ network made up of Stop CSG groups from across Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains. These meetings were held in Thirroul in April and Campbelltown in August and are an important way for groups to share their knowledge, resources, plans and strategies.  Another combined meeting is scheduled for Newtown on 25 October.

Website 

Thanks to Elle and Brian we are improving the look and feel of our website stopcsgsydney.org.au and special thanks to Stop CSG Illawarra for creating a generic stopcsg.org website with links to local groups including ours.

Newsletter

Thanks to Pip Hinman we have a regular newsletter going out to our extensive mailing list fortnightly.

Stalls and Festivals 

Part of Stop CSG’s role is to raise awareness about coal seam gas and its effects on our environment, communities and economies. We have a part to play in educating people who might otherwise not have heard about CSG or may only be vaguely aware of it. We always need more volunteers to help educate the people who visit our stalls at events and markets and it is a great way to learn about the issues. Throughout the past year, Jenny Seymour has efficiently and reliably co-ordinated volunteers and organised stalls at various venues in the Marrickville municipality, other inner west areas and across Sydney, as follows:

·         The Greens and Socialist Alliance both supported us at Newtown Festival by stocking our merchandise and resources – 10 November 2013

·         Orange Grove Organic Market Lilyfield – 15 February 2014

·         John Fenton talk, Leichhardt with the Greens – 22 February

·         Paddington Market, 22 February, 10 May and 2 August

·         Addison Road Organic Market, Marrickville, 23 March

·         Newtown Market, 24 May

·         Bondi Farmers Market, 5 July

·         OLOWOF – “Don’t Undermine Our Water” Bentley talk and film night, Leichhardt – 12 June

·         Footprints Eco Festival – Annandale  24 August

·         Randwick Eco Living Fair, 14 September, thanks to Rose McMillan for co-ordinating this one

·         Dulwich Hill Village Fair – 14 September

Two more stalls are planned for Marrickville Fair (19 October) and Newtown Festival (9 November).

A special mention here goes to all the volunteers who turn up to help on stalls throughout the year, you are on the front line of our community education work.

Thanks to the income generated from stalls and Paul Benedek’s financial management our finances remained in a healthy position throughout the year.

Campaigns

Pip Hinman and Karol Florek led have led our campaign to Cancel the Licence (PEL 463) which governs St Peters and much of the Sydney Basin.  This has included writing to Minister for Resources, Anthony Roberts asking him to cancel the licence held by Dart Energy.  At Dart Energy’s AGM on 10 September it was agreed by shareholders that the company be sold to UK-based company IGas.  However, IGas wants to sell off all Australian Dart assets.  Stop CSG is concerned this could mean another  CSG company in Australia might buy Dart assets and wait for the market to improve before using PEL 463 to ramp up drilling within the Sydney basin.

 Other action planned for this campaign includes putting a motion to Marrickville Council asking it to support our call to cancel the licence and to declare the local area gasfield-free, and for the Council to write to the Energy Minister also to request cancelling the PEL 463.

We held two simultaneous rallies on 1 September at Sydney Park St Peters and at Cronulla, to highlight our concerns.  We received local media coverage in the August and September 2014 editions of the Inner City Weekender newspaper and in The Leader, Cronulla, and also in Green Left Weekly on 23 August.

 To date, the Minister’s office has formally replied indicating they are waiting for the Office of Coal Seam Gas to review PEL 463 and all other licences in NSW so no definitive information about PEL 463 has yet been forthcoming.

Summary – the way forward

With the NSW State election looming on 28 March 2015, Stop CSG Sydney still has much work to do.  The Baird Government has already made it clear they support a rapid increase in CSG drilling in the Camden area, Gloucester and the Pilliga, to name the most well-known.

While we can and should do what we can to help communities that are on the front line, including visiting the protest camp at Gloucester – we are supporting the state-wide campaign against CSG through our campaign to have the PEL 463 extinguished.

 Through our lobbying, we continue to draw attention to the Government’s contradictory stance of allowing a CSG company to be able to hold more than four million people and their fresh water supply to ransom, while asserting that all urban areas and some regional areas are not under threat.

Stop CSG Sydney is a dynamic, local, grassroots community group with a place for anyone who is concerned about this risky, invasive industry. I would like to thank the Committee for their dedicated efforts during the past year. I encourage anyone who is thinking of being involved in this group to make your own contribution within your own area of skills or interest. I have gained skills and experience and life-long friends during the three years that I have been active in this group.  Although I am leaving Sydney, I will continue this fight and look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you on the front lines until our land and water are secure.

Sandy Thompson

President

22 September 2014

logo-stop-csg-sydney1260

MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL SIGNS ON TO THE CAMPAIGN TO CANCEL THE COAL SEAM GAS LICENSE COVERING SYDNEY BASIN

MEDIA RELEASE; October 14, 2014

 

Stop CSG Sydney President Pip Hinman has welcomed Marrickville Council’s decision at its meeting tonight to support the campaign to extinguish the CSG licence covering the whole of the Sydney basin.

The unanimous council decision came on the same day as the Minister for Energy and Resources Anthony Roberts announced he had cancelled three PELs in NSW.

“We’re very proud to have Marrickville council on board. It has twice spoken out in support of the residents’ campaign against coal seam gas.  Now, it has taken a further step”, said Ms Hinman.

“The council has now committed itself to a campaign to put pressure on the state government in the lead-up to the March 2015 elections to cancel the PEL 463 which extends across the Sydney basin. It will write to the minister asking that he cancel the licence, and it will publicise the issues across the Marrickville LGA.

“Council has committed to educate the LGA about the dangers of unconventional gas mining, and will erect signs around Marrickville declaring that it is a council which does not support coal seam gas.

“It has also committed to investigate a non-binding poll in the 2016 council elections on CSG as a way of adding pressure to get the licence extinguished – if it hasn’t already been cancelled”, said Ms Hinman.

Adrienne Shilling, who also spoke at the council meeting on behalf of the group, said:

“Most Marrickville residents would not be aware that there is a current licence to drill for coal seam gas (CSG) – mainly covering residential areas – across Marrickville and the Sydney basin”.

“And they wouldn’t know that the minister has given approval for Dart Energy to sell that licence to to a UK company IGas which states it doesn’t want to hold Australian assets”.

“The licence expires in October 2015. This means that CSG exploration remains a possibility – possibly after being sold back to a company with licences where fracking is already underway”.

“We want the NSW minister to cancel the licence now. Given the new 2-kilometre buffer zone laws, and the community opposition to CSG drilling, it is an anachronism that there still is a licence to drill in an area where more than 4 million people live and work”, said Ms Shilling.

A hard-fought community campaign over 2011-2012, supported by Marrickville Council, helped stop Dart Energy’s test drill plans for St Peters.

Council supported the local residents’ community group, Stop CSG Sydney (formerly Sydney Residents Against Coal Seam Gas) in its quest to put a stop to a test drill just metres from schools and parks and homes.

 

Marrickville Council passed the following motion:

1. Supports Stop CSG Sydney’s campaign for the extinguishment of the licence held by Dart Energy to drill for coal seam gas that is in operation over the Sydney basin including parts of the Marrickville Local Government Area (PEL 463);

2. Calls on NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Minister Roberts to cancel the licence now under his current powers; and

3. Commits to supporting the campaign by:

a. Writing to the Energy and Resources Minister outlining its concerns about CSG drilling, fracking and the impact of CSG mining on groundwater, and urging the Minister not to allow the licence to be bought by UK company IGas;

b. Advertising this motion and the campaign in the next Marrickville council newsletter and on its website;

c. Erecting signs around the Marrickville LGA that it a ‘Coal Seam Gas Free’ council;

d. Committing to investigate a non-binding poll the 2016 council elections on CSG (to be run by the NSW electoral Commission) to assist the campaign to get the CSG licence extinguished (if it hasn’t already been cancelled).

Media comment:
Pip Hinman: 0412 139 968
Adrienne Shilling: 0411 550 849

STOP CSG SYDNEY

NSW CHIEF SCIENTIST WARNS OF CSG RISKS

MEDIA RELEASE October 3, 2014

 

A long-awaited report by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer was tabled on September 30.

The Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW, commissioned on February 21, 2013 by then Premier Barry O’Farrell, confirms the risks associated with CSG, notes many unknowns remain, and says government regulation of the industry needs to be overhauled.

The recommendations focus on how to develop the industry, not if or under what conditions development would be considered safe. The risks can be managed, the Review states (on page 10).

“In particularly sensitive areas, such as in and near drinking water catchments, risk management needs to be of high order with particularly stringent requirements on companies operating there in terms of management, data provision, insurance cover and incident-response times.’

The report confirms the risks that community members have been talking about for years. It states that unknowns remain and says that regulation of CSG by the NSW Government needs an overhaul.

The report also notes: “… it is inevitable that the CSG industry will have some unintended consequences, including as the result of accidents, human error, and natural disasters”.

Stop CSG Sydney believes that ‘unintended consequences’ with the industry is enough reason to immediately rule out mining in water catchment areas and adopt the precautionary principle across the rest of NSW until the science shows it is safe.

CSG exploration and mining always involves unearthing water that is high in salt and methane, and can contain toxic and radioactive compounds and heavy metals. It involves damage to aquifers, methane leaks and industrial development that are incompatible with our drinking water catchments.

CSG: Not here! Not anywhere!

 

Read the Chief Scientists’ report report here.

See Liberal MP Lee Evans’ reponse here.

See Stop CSG Illwarra’s response here.

See Lock the Gate Alliance’s response here.

See NSW Greens response here.

See Sydney Morning Herald report here.