Hundreds of people from across North West NSW gathered behind the Crossing Theatre in Narrabri yesterday to celebrate remaining Gasfield Free for another year and to show their ongoing and unwavering opposition to the Santos Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga Forest.
As part of the celebrations, a further nine local communities were declared Gasfield Free, taking the area now declared in the North West to over 3.2 million hectares.
The local community is calling on Santos’ new CEO, Kevin Gallagher, to ditch the risky and controversial Narrabri Gas Project, which poses unacceptable risks to their farmland, their water resources and their communities.
Early this year, Santos slashed $808 million off the value of the project while its project partner, EnergyAustralia, wrote off its 20% stake to zero. They are not alone. A number of international investment analysts have also either downgraded or written off the Santos Narrabri Gas Project due, in a large part, to widespread community opposition.
Event organiser and local farmer Sarah Ciesiolka explains, “The Narrabri Gas Project has a long history of environmental failures and incidents, regulatory delays and community opposition. Now, it’s close to worthless financially.”
“Today’s event was an opportunity to send a strong message to both Santos and the NSW Government that we completely reject their plans for our region. As a community, we refuse to support the large scale industrialisation of the landscape in the form of a gasfield here in the North West. The reality is that co-existence of gas and agriculture is simply not possible, and we will not stand aside and witness the destruction of our land and our water.”
“We’re now calling on the new CEO, Kevin Gallagher, to get Santos out of Narrabri before it brings more trouble to the local environment, the local community and to its shareholders.”
Stuart Murray is a Narrabri resident, local farmer and event organiser. “Our local communities have been unequivocal in our opposition to coal seam gas. Our community run door-to-door surveys clearly show that landholders’ and residents in the North West do not want to live in an industrial gasfield, and Santos has no social licence to operate here.”
The 9 additional communities declared today span an area of over 200,000 hectares. The outcome in these communities mirrors that in the 87 communities across 9 Local Government Areas surrounding the Pilliga Forest that have been surveyed to date. These communities have conclusively declared their districts Gasfield Free with an average of 96% rejecting plans for gasfields in the North West.
The event had a celebratory feel and once again reconfirmed the region’s opposition to the coal seam gas industry. Speakers helped to remind attendees why it is so important to voice our united opposition to the Narrabri Gas Project, in an effort to avoid the same outcomes Queensland communities have seen by the development of the coal seam gas industry there.