More than 300 residents of the Mountain Districts packed into Kulnura Community Hall on Thursday, June 19, to learn how they can defend their land against Coal Seam Gas mining.
The Coal Seam Gas subcommittee of the Mountain Districts Association had organised the meeting as the next stage in a campaign to declare the entire district Gasfield Free. Attendees of the meeting voiced a unanimous “yes” by a show of hands when asked, “Do you wish your community to remain gasfield free?”
Almost the entire Mountain community is covered within AGL’s Petroleum Exploration License #2 (PEL2), which also extends south west to include Camden where the gas company currently has over 40 active gas wells. Gas mining in the local area is specifically referenced in the NSW Governments 2013 Planning Department’s Discussion Paper for the Lower Hunter.
This document states: “.it is possible that coal seam gas production could commence within the next two years (in Wollombi, Grumps Retreat, Bucketty and Peats Ridge)”. Lock The Gate Alliance regional co-ordinator Mr Steve Phillips, campaign organisers John Edye and Simon Perry, local resident Reg Bennett and columnist and local landholder Peter FitzSimons all addressed the community meeting.
Mr Bennett, one of the founders of the fruit orchard industry on the Mountain said: “Coal Seam Gas mining threatens the aquifer the farming districts of the Mountain rely upon.” The subcommittee plans to individually survey every resident of the district over the coming months in order to accurately measure community feeling towards the issue. An initial survey of Ironbark Rd in Central Mangrove found that over 96% of residents wished their area to remain gasfield free.
Respondents voiced concerns with the potential reduction in the height and contamination of the aquifer, lowered land values, and the disruption caused by the heavy machinery associated with gas drilling and mining. During the community meeting, Ironbark Rd resident Glynnis Golsby was presented with a Gasfield Free declaration sign on behalf of the surveyed residents.
The sign will be erected on private land in a highly visible location. Convener of the anti-CSG community group Mr John Edye said the Ironbark Rd survey is “the first step in our community working together to protect our farms, water supplies and homes from coal seam gas mining”.
“The nearly unanimous call from Ironbark Rd residents to remain gas field free is likely to be repeated from every house we visit.” Nearly 80 residents volunteered on Thursday night to conduct the community survey. Meeting convener Simon Perry said: “The packed hall, the unanimous show of hands against coal seam gas, and the number of survey volunteers, demonstrate the passion this community feels about this issue.”
A training session for the volunteers will be held during the evening on Thursday, June 26, again at Kulnura Hall. Mr Perry and Mr Edye plan to meet with other local community groups in the coming weeks to encourage similar community surveys to be performed in the McDonald and Wollombi valleys.
Media release, 22 Jun 2014
Simon Perry, Coal
Seam Gas subcommittee
of the Mountain Districts