Newcastle residents block coal seam gas drilling

Residents of Fullerton Cove, on the outskirts of Newcastle, set up a blockade on August 20 to prevent Dart Energy from drilling

The Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group released the statement below on August 20.

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Residents of Fullerton Cove, on the outskirts of Newcastle, have set up a blockade this morning to prevent Dart Energy from drilling two coal seam gas pilot production wells, which are currently under construction.

The Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group wrote to Dart Energy last week questioning the lawfulness of the proposed drilling and asking that no further construction occur until it has been tested in court.

The two proposed pilot wells are located on a floodplain next to the Hunter Wetlands Ramsar site, an internationally significant wetland, and would involve drilling through the Tomago sand beds, which provide drinking water for Newcastle.

“Coal seam gas drilling represents an unacceptable risk to our water, our floodplain and our local community," said local resident Lindsay Clout.

“Last year Dart had a compliance issue recorded against them relating to an acid sulphate soil issue during exploratory drilling and there remains a very high risk of further problems.

“Fullerton Cove is a very sensitive, flood prone environment and it is a completely inappropriate place for dangerous coal seam gas drilling.

“The construction of the pilot wells must be suspended until legal questions have been resolved through the Land and Environment Court.

“The pattern we are seeing at Fullerton Cove of coal seam gas companies coming into an area and riding rough-shod over local communities is being repeated all over the country" said Drew Hutton, president of Lock The Gate Alliance.

“The NSW government needs to step in immediately, respond to the concerns of Fullerton Cove residents and prevent drilling in this important drinking water source.”