The Caroona Coal Action Group released the statement below on October 27.
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Landowners from communities across the Liverpool Plains have been forced to take direct action against the mining giant Santos to stop it pushing ahead with ‘pilot production’ of coal seam gas (CSG) before the potential risks to the region’s iconic water systems are known.
This morning local residents began parking vehicles and heavy farm machinery to blockade the George’s Island Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL 1) site, near Spring Ridge, after Santos repeatedly refused to wait for the outcome of the Namoi Catchment Water Study before escalating its operations.
The independent water study — established by the NSW government and jointly funded by the Federal Government and mining companies, including Santos — is due to be completed next year. It is expected to provide the most comprehensive picture yet of the region’s complex network of aquifers to better understand the risks posed by large-scale mining.
Caroona Coal Action Group (CCAG) spokesperson Tim Duddy said the decision by Santos to ignore the study and press ahead left the community with little choice.
“This is unquestionably one of the most valuable agricultural areas in Australia fed by an extraordinary network of aquifer systems and our community is not going to stand by and watch it destroyed overnight,” Mr Duddy said.
“If mining companies and governments aren’t prepared to act, our communities will.
“Santos claims to be concerned about protecting this environment but their actions speak otherwise. They are refusing to wait a matter of months for the outcome of a water study which could be the difference between saving one of the nation’s most productive agricultural areas or destroying it forever.
Duddy said CCAG had written to the state and federal governments seeking their urgent intervention but were yet to receive a response. He said CCAG had called on them to require Santos to postpone its CSG production until the Namoi Water Study is complete and its outcomes properly understood.
“The landowners and residents who’ve come together for this blockade are deeply concerned for the future of the Liverpool Plains and no longer prepared to see mining allowed to proceed at any cost,” Duddy said.
“We certainly aren’t opposed to mining so long as it can be shown it poses no significant risk to the environment but no-one, including Santos, can make such a claim in this case.”