Stop CSG Illawarra released the statement below on September 5. The group is organising a human sign protest at the Bulli Showgrounds on October 21.
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Apex Energy has lodged a modification to its currently frozen coal seam gas (CSG) development approval in the Illawarra. They have applied to extend drilling deadlines to “three years from commencement of drilling of the first bore hole” for 16 wells spanning two drinking water catchments (Woronora and Nepean).
This is a necessary step to keep the Apex/Ormil CSG project alive. While the project is currently frozen, without this modification it will lapse for good on September 22.
If approved, it will give Apex and Ormil unlimited time to start drilling; to wait for the enormous community opposition and volunteer hours to tire.
However, approval can’t solve all the administrative problems faced by the project. Apex also needs to secure a new exploration licence (PEL138) to replace the one that lapsed in February this year (PEL442), freezing the project.
What the government does now is a huge test. Will it keep the project alive — and give it an unlimited start date – in the face of enormous risk and community opposition?
Tell the government what you think by September 14. You can read the modification and make a submission via the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure website. This must be done by September 14.
Please take the time to register your opposition — however short your submission — as a large number of objections puts the decision in the public spotlight and adds pressure for a democratic outcome.
Some of the issues you may wish to consider in your submission:
1. Development must always be considered in the context of the surrounding area. This can change over time. Given this, a modification for an indefinite start date is irresponsible.
2. The risks of CSG mining are well evidenced and the Premier has acknowledged that the current legislation is not adequate to manage development of the industry. In this context, no new applications or modifications should be approved and existing projects should be frozen, to conduct an investigation into the full impacts of CSG development.
3. The drinking water catchment is unsuitable for CSG exploration and production. Allowing this development to go ahead contradicts the pre-election promise from Barry O’Farrell: “The next Liberal/National Government will ensure that mining cannot occur… in any water catchment area, and will ensure that mining leases and mining exploration permits reflect that common sense; no ifs, no buts, a guarantee.”
4. The Illawarra Escarpment is a high risk bush fire area, exacerbated by its highly combustible peat base. Indeed, in August 2012 a bush fire burnt through AI09 and AI10 in this project. Extracting and piping gas in this environment will increase fire risks.
5. The development of this coal seam gas project is being layered on top of extensive coal mining and a fault line, without an assessment of the combined impacts.
6. There is widespread public opposition to CSG exploration and mining in the area. This includes a public petition of over 30,000 signatures, formal votes against CSG mining by local councils and two actions opposing CSG development attended by over 3000 people each.
Please take the time to put your submission in and let the government know this is simply unacceptable to the community.