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:


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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)