The Lock the Gate Alliance released this statement on August 7.
About 30 farmers and residents of villages in the Gloucester Valley held a protest vigil on August 7 at the site where AGL plans to frack for coal seam gas on farmland in the area, vowing to begin a sustained campaign of peaceful direct action to stop the work after the NSW government failed to act on long-standing community concerns about the impacts of the project.
Last week, the state government changed the key state planning policy for mining to relieve AGL of the obligation to get development consent and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for their Waukivory fracking project.
On August 6, Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts renewed AGL’s petroleum exploration licence in the Gloucester Valley for six years and announced that the project had been approved. Within hours, trucks began to arrive to prepare the site. By the next morning, a protest vigil was under way at the entrance to the site.
Former Gloucester Mayor Julie Lyford is at the protest and said: “AGL and its coal seam gas fracking are not welcome in this valley, but we have been abandoned to a fracking fate by the state government that has left Gloucester out of its coal seam gas reforms and changed the law to suit AGL and shaft the community.
“Today is the beginning of a campaign of peaceful direct action to stop this fracking project. The government has failed to protect us. There’s no coal seam gas exclusion up here, no gateway, no protection, no buffer."
Local cattle farmer Ed Robinson’s property is adjacent to the AGL site. He says he will take peaceful direct action and risk arrest to protect the Gloucester Valley.
Robinson said: “We are taking a stand to protect our community from coal seam gas. We do not want this dangerous industry in our neighbourhood, and we will continue to fight until our valley is protected. Our commitment is non-violent, but it is non-negotiable.
“This coal seam gas project has been foisted on us by a gas company with no interest in a sustainable and healthy future for our region, supported by short-sighted and compromised politicians and bureaucrats who are deaf to the wishes of our community.
“We will be asking people from across the region and the state who value clean water and safe communities to support Gloucester to help us begin a peaceful blockade of this site, to show the government that community power can achieve what they’re too weak to do.”