Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas released the statement below on August 13.
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Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas has raised questions about the so-called energy forum being held in Armidale this week, saying the invitation-only event smacks of a coal seam gas promotional event that is ignoring other energy options and riding roughshod over the interests of local farmers.
The event has been promoted by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland and NSW Coalition MLC Scot Macdonald. Santos and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association are both said to be speaking at the event.
“We would like to know why the public has been locked out from attending this so-called energy forum and why coal seam gas companies have been given the inside running as speakers at the event,” said Carmel Flint, spokesperson for Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas.
“The Armidale community have been strong advocates for renewable energy for a long time and we think it extraordinary that a forum like this is being held without hearing from exciting local initiatives such as New England Wind and engaged community stakeholders such as Sustainable Living Armidale.
“Farmers threatened by coal seam gas mining have every right to be concerned that elected representatives, like Scot Macdonald, are providing a platform for coal seam gas companies without affected local farmers having an opportunity to participate.
“Coal seam gas represents a serious risk to farm enterprises and water resources, to the future profitability of agriculture and other industries such as tourism, and to the social cohesion of rural communities.
“The proposition which Mr Macdonald seems to be promoting, that coal seam gas will provide energy for our region, does not even stack up on economic grounds with the prohibitive expense of a pipeline making it a far inferior option to wind and solar energy options.
“Biased promotion of a single flawed energy option at the expense of positive, long-term solutions to our energy needs is very poor form from a government that is still supposedly in the process of developing Regional Land Use Plans for the region.
“This energy forum smacks of a stitch up and suggests that the NSW government has already ‘sold the farm’ to the coal seam gas industry.
“We're calling on Regional Development Australia Northern Inland and the NSW government to open the event up to the public and to provide assurances that there will be equal time given to experts in renewable energy options for the region.”