Moree's Polly Cutmore one of more than 400 to speak at Narrabri Gas Project public hearing

ANTI-CSG: Gomeroi elder Polly Cutmore will be one of 404 speakers at next week's public hearing into the controversial Narrabri Gas Project.

ANTI-CSG: Gomeroi elder Polly Cutmore will be one of 404 speakers at next week's public hearing into the controversial Narrabri Gas Project.

Moree's Polly Cutmore will be one of more than 400 people to speak at next week's public hearing for the Narrabri Gas Project.

The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has been forced to extend the public hearing by two days, after an unprecedented number of people registered to have their say on the controversial Narrabri Gas Project.

A record 404 people will speak at the hearing, which has now been extended from five to seven days to ensure everyone gets to have their say.

One of these speakers will be Moree Aboriginal elder and Native Title Applicant for the Gomeroi Nation Polly Cutmore, who is strongly opposed to the project.

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She has been distributing a petition around the Gomeroi Nation, asking her people whether they want CSG, and is calling on both the Aboriginal and non-Indigenous community to come together against the project.

Ms Cutmore will get to have her say at the public hearing on Tuesday, July 21.

"I will be talking about the lack of consultation with the Gomeroi Nation," she said.

"There has been no consultation with my people.

"I'm also going to bring up the significance of the Great Artesian Basin and what it means to us and how it connects us."

Prior to the public hearing, Ms Cutmore is hosting a webinar on Sunday afternoon to inform people about the project and encourages everyone who wants to know more to register.

"This meeting is a Gomeroi community / nation meeting to hear about what is going on and what we can do to defend the Pilliga Forest from coal seam gas mining," she said.

"You don't have to contribute, I just want everyone to be a participant.

"If you're unsure about what's going on, please be a participant and find out. It's one of the most important things you can do."

Ms Cutmore will also be putting her petition online and urges everyone to sign it before Tuesday, so she can take that to the IPC public hearing.

So far she's collected more than 1000 signatures, with more expected.

"We need everyone to get behind this," she said.

"It's so good that people are waking up to it. It's in a lot of the shops around town. We're coming together for something good."

The IPC public hearing will be held from Monday, July 20 to Saturday, July 25 and on Saturday, August 1, commencing at 9.30am daily.

The hearing will allow those for and against the $3.6 billion coal seam gas project to present their views to Commissioners Steve O'Connor (Panel Chair), John Hann and Professor Snow Barlow prior to them making a final decision.

IPC executive director Sam McLean said the hearing will be held virtually in response to COVID-19.

"Ideally, the Commission would be able to hold a conventional face-to-face public hearing but this has to be different in the current public health environment," she said.

"There's still significant community concern, given recent developments in Victoria and other parts of NSW, about coronavirus and the health risks associated with any large public event, particularly in a small regional community.

"The Commission's main priority in complying with the regulation introduced by Government was to safely ensure broad public participation in its decision-making process.

"We have been impressed by the response from not only the local community wanting to engage in the electronic Public Hearing process but also from those in other parts of NSW and Australia who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to have their say on this state significant development but for the electronic format."

The hearing will be hosted from a broadcast studio in Sydney with stakeholders presenting to the panel via telephone or Zoom video-link.

In direct response to concerns about some affected residents having limited or no internet or telephone access, the Commission will set up a studio at the Crossing Theatre in Narrabri where local residents and business owners from across the region can present to the panel via video-link.

Commissioners spent last week in the Narrabri region inspecting the site of the proposed mining project.

If approved the Santos project would build 850 coal seam gas wells, many of them in the Pilliga state forest.

Ms Cutmore's webinar will be held on Sunday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. To register to take part, go to https://utsmeet.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TABqrBZOTdGQwXOK4aWZTA?fbclid=IwAR1Gqs5AurTeAf2mm1KEK5AUm5RC8N-wWFRRmY38hXSQEDR8mp2f8COWp9o