Today's announcement by AGL that it is suspending its planned expansion at Camden, west of Sydney should now be followed by a decision by the O'Farrell government to suspend all coal seam gas operations around the state until the New South Wales community has been fully consulted about this controversial industry's future.
Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, congratulated the Scenic Hills Association and its spokesperson Jacqui Kirkby whose strong advocacy over the last few years has raised public awareness of the Camden situation but warned that pressure would need to be maintained on AGL to ensure this was not merely a public relations manoeuvre by the company.
Mr Hutton, whose organisation has led the massive, statewide community protests against irresponsible coal and coal seam gas mining, is calling on the O'Farrell government to immediately announce a moratorium on coal seam gas and to introduce a comprehensive reform agenda that will protect the state's water catchment and underground water, closely settled areas, good farm land and important environmental areas from mining.
"If it is good enough for AGL to suspend the Camden operation, then it is appropriate for it to do the same in the Hunter and at Gloucester. Other companies should be forced to suspend their operations in areas like the Northern Rivers, the rest of the Sydney basin and the state's north-west," Mr Hutton said.
Mr Hutton said Lock the Gate and the whole community-based opposition would be stepping up its resistance to coal and coal seam gas mining and would be making this a significant issue in the forthcoming federal election.
Drew Hutton was arrested yesterday at a blockade of a coal seam gas site at Doubtful Creek near Kyogle yesterday.