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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
22 September 2014