Despite the NSW government's promise to rule out sensitive areas to coal seam gas (CSG) activity, the long-awaited Strategic Regional Land Use Plan and Aquifer Interference Policy means “every part of NSW is still up for grabs”, Jess Moore from Stop CSG Illawarra said on March 6.
Liberal premier Barry O’Farrell’s government policy is “a disaster and a broken election promise”.
Moore said “no areas are off limits to CSG”.
Under growing public pressure, the NSW government had assured the public the new policy would address concerns about CSG's impacts on water, health, agriculture and the environment.
Instead, Moore said, they not only “failed to protect drinking water catchments from the risks posed by CSG,” but actually aid “ongoing development of the industry”.
In a minor reform, a new assessment panel will overlook CSG approvals on farmland, wineries and horse studs.
“Yet drilling and fracking are still allowed in NSW water catchments under the new plans,” Moore said, “and approvals can still be granted without an independent scientific assessment.
“There is now more than enough evidence that CSG mining brings risks. The contamination of water systems and supplies and farmland show the need for an immediate moratorium on all CSG projects and a royal commission into the full impacts of the industry.”
The new policy allowing CSG came after more than 20 toxic leaks and spills from CSG activity I were revealed in the Pilliga forest in north-west NSW.
Stop CSG Illawarra will join Stop CSG Sydney, Lock the Gate and others to protest against CSG at NSW Parliament on March 15.
Parliament will debate a petition signed by over 20,000 NSW residents calling for a moratorium and royal commission into CSG mining.
Stop CSG Sydney activist Josie Evans told Green Left Weekly: “One of the communities that will feature at the rally is Oakdale, about 80 kilometres south-west of Sydney, where new CSG drilling has begun right next to NSW's largest water catchment, which supplies Sydney's drinking water.
“As with other CSG drilling, the community has been left in the dark, and it has been up to campaigners to alert the locals, after discovering the new drilling on a mining industry website.
“On March 11, Oakdale will hold a community meeting on CSG involving the local community, politicians, representatives from the CSG industry and activists opposed to CSG. It is outrageous that another community is under assault from the CSG industry and even worse that the state’s water supply is being put in danger.
“But the community is fighting back, from Oakdale to northern NSW, where a 700-strong meeting at the Lismore Workers Club slammed CSG.”
Politicians and media will also get the message when they receive specially made CSG water bottles with labels like “Pilliga water (comes with free toxic extras)”, “Illawarra water (up to 200 CSG wells in the water catchment)”, and “BTEX water (toxic compounds found in CSG waste water)”.
[Read more of Green Left's coverage of the campaign against coal seam gas. For more information visit the Stop CSG Illawarra, Stop CSG Sydney and Lock the Gate Alliance websites.]
A new, short video countering the industry’s “We Want CSG” advertising campaign