More than 3000 people formed a human sign at Bulli Showground on October 21 to spell out: “Protect H2O, Stop CSG!”'. It was the third major action organised by Stop CSG Illawarra, after its mass human sign at Austinmer Beach last May, and Bridge Walk to stop coal seam gas across Sea Cliff Bridge last October.
Such a large turn out, despite no immediate threat of work starting on local coal seam gas projects, reflects the ongoing efforts of Stop CSG Illawarra to continually inform the Illawarra community on the risks posed by the industry.
To publicise the action, more than 70,000 leaflets were letterboxed, several hundred posters distributed, social media utilised, a business and a community supporter program was launched. Systematic doorknocking to inform residents about the campaign took place in six suburbs in the northern Illawarra. Hundreds of Stop CSG Illawarra volunteers were involved in this publicity and information campaign.
The Bulli action was dedicated to the statewide demand for a ban on coal seam gas development in NSW drinking water catchments, all of which are encroached upon by coal seam gas exploration licences.
Before last year's state election, then-opposition leader Barry O'Farrell promised to ban exploration and mining in drinking water catchments. He said: “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.”
But the NSW government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, released on September 11 this year, is a policy to develop CSG – despite well evidenced risks and enormous community opposition – and one that breaks the above promise. The Bulli human sign was the community's latest response to this broken promise.
Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said: "It's astonishing that the community is having to fight the state government to protect our water supply. No part of NSW – not the land where food is grown, not our water catchments – has been ruled out to CSG development.”
"But this community is ensuring our land and water is protected. We've won a freeze on the local project and had an application withdrawn due to the level of opposition here. It's past time we saw this reflected in policy.”
For more information visit Stop CSG Illawarra's website, stop-csg-illawarra.org.