Great Artesian Basin

More than 300 people joined a forest camp in the Pilliga State Forest in north-west New South Wales during the weekend of November 11–12 to protest against coal seam gas (CSG) mining.

The protest culminated in a convoy of about 100 cars filled with locals, farmers and environmental activists making their way into the forest to create a human sign on the sand beds of the river spelling out “NO CSG”.

More than 7000 submissions were presented to the NSW Department of Planning after a lively march through Sydney’s CBD to protest against Santos coal seam gas mining that threatens the Pilliga Forest and goes against the wishes of the Gamilaraay traditional custodians of the land.

Narrabri gasfield threatens two precious water resources: the Great Artesian Basin and the Murray-Darling Basin.

The area of the Great Artesian Basin with the highest recharge rates is almost entirely contained within the Pilliga Forest.

Australia is the most urbanised country on earth. Almost 90% of Australians live in urban areas, while rural Australia, as of 2010–11, had only 134,000 farm businesses employing 307,000 people to manage 52% of Australia — 417.3 million hectares of land, including the 46.3% of Australia that is marginal land.

About 100 protesters, adorned in yellow and black berets, skirts, scarves, blouses, dresses and umbrellas gathered outside the Santos HQ near Circular Quay on May 4 to tell Santos to frack off from the Pilliga, near Narrabri. With them, sitting in a nearby tree, was a huge koala — symbolising one the endangered species whose habitat is being destroyed.

Protests were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company’s headquarters in Adelaide where the new CEO was fronting his first AGM. Santos has lost more than $1 billion on its coal seam gas (CSG) project at Narrabri.

The Beyond Coal Gas Conference held over April 9 to 11 at Myuna Bay invited many Aboriginal leaders involved in the struggle against fracking or coalmining on their country to share their stories and promote solidarity with their campaigns.

Speakers over the three days included Kylie Sambo from SEED, the Indigenous youth climate network; Gadrian Hooson from the NT campaign against fracking in Borroloola and other Aboriginal communities; Paul Spearim from the Gamilaraay People and Clan Groups against CSG and Coalmining; and Balai elder Mabel Quakawoot.

Five climate guardian angels were arrested by police on February 9 while blockading the road to Santos' Leewood wastewater facility in the Pilliga forest near Narrabri in north-west New South Wales.

Protesters opposing a coal seam gas (CSG) wastewater plant in northern NSW say they will not let police use of pepper spray deter them from their fight against Santos' plans to drill up to 850 CSG wells in the Pilliga.

The Pilliga forest is a vital recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin, which forms the lifeblood of eastern Australia.

As part of its CSG plans, Santos is building a wastewater treatment works at Leewood, which was approved without an environmental impact statement and without public consultation.

The Great Artesian Basin is one of the world’s largest underground water reservoirs. It is the only source of water for towns and farms across almost a quarter of Australia, from far north Queensland to northern South Australia.

On November 7, the NSW Great Artesian Basin Advisory Group received a scientific report commissioned by the Artesian Bore Water Users Association (ABWUA). The report found that the reservoir’s recharge area is about a third as large as previously thought — covering less than 10% of the basin’s 1.7 million square kilometres.

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