THE fight to halt Coal Seam Gas mining exploration has fallen on deaf ears with the New South Wales Government determined to push forward with the development of the CSG industry.
NSW resources and energy Minister Chris Hartcher has told industry leaders that the government is right behind CSG mining.
NSW has a “huge challenge and a huge opportunity”, Mr Hartcher said.
He believes the development of the state’s CSG reserves would need to take place while engaging with farmers and environmentalists who had concerns including “possible challenges to the protection of the most valuable resource of all in Australia - water”.
Mr Hartcher believes untapped resources represent more than 250 years of supply.
So the big question on everybody’s mind is: can farmers and gas companies co-exist?
Local farmer Stuart Gall said he doesn’t believe enough has been done to put landholder’s fears at ease.
“From the information we have received I don’t think it’s safe,” Mr Gall said.
Making it clear that he is not an advocate against CSG mining, Mr Gall is still worried that the industry could destroy the Artesian Basin.
“Let’s get it right; we have farmed here for 150 years, there is nothing to say we can’t continue to farm here for 150 more; why risk it for 30 years of gas mining?”
Another valid point made by Mr Gall is the so called “compensation” that landholders receive after a gas well lands on a property.
“Everybody makes a dollar out of it except the farmer; the mining companies, the government and even the community may benefit but we are the only ones inconvenienced,” Mr Gall said.
Recently landholders from the Moree district including chair of the Bellata/Gurley CSG Action Group Penny Blatchford joined forces with community leaders, industry groups, conservationists and concerned citizens to protest about CSG exploration on prime agricultural land.
“We will be requesting meetings to discuss our submissions in the coming weeks,” Mrs Blatchford said.
She believes the community will not move forward with the government on CSG exploration unless better systems are put in place to protect prime agricultural land.
She said further tests need to be done on the impacts of mining on our water and environment.
“It’s a waiting game; until exploration licenses have been withdrawn it’s business as usual.”