Crunch time nears to stop Santos’ coal seam gas project in the Pilliga

Sydney Knitting Nannas outside NSW Parliament on June 17. Photo: Pip Hinman

The Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends were outside New South Wales parliament on June 17 to protest the planning department’s decision to recommend Santos’ 850-well coal seam gas project in the Pilliga.

The NSW Department of Planning decided on June 12 to approve the gas project, despite the government’s failure to implement the Chief Scientist’s recommendations from 2014 for managing risks from the industry.

A Legislative Council inquiry in February found that only two of the 16 recommendations have been fully implemented. Key recommendations around assessing cumulative risks, making sure landholders have access to insurance and establishing an expert standing advisory body have been ignored.  A major insurer has also announced it would withdraw its limited insurance to landholders with gas infrastructure.

NSW Planning says the Santos project is “unlikely” to affect groundwater resources.

Big questions remain over the potential contamination of underground water via unknown geological faults, with water experts unable to come to a conclusion concerning the risk.

The department has a positive view of Santos’ plan to dump saline waste into Bohena Creek, when it is running.

The Gomeroi people, who have protected the Pilliga for many thousands of years, and who are now protecting the forest and the Great Artesian Basin, are opposed to the gas project, as are farmers from the north west, and city and regional folk.

Santos’ future plans could include seven CSG gasfields, from Dubbo to Moree.

[The Independent Planning Commission’s public hearings will be held online, July 20–24. People are urged to make a unique opposition submission, which does not have to be long, by July 31. You can register your interest to speak to the IPC panel about the project by July 10. For more information visit visit CSG Free North West and Lock the Gate Alliance.]

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