Six farmers from the Coonamble and Pilliga regions have this morning completely shut down a Santos coal seam gas drill rig site in the Pilliga forest of north-west NSW, in an escalation of ongoing conflict over the controversial project.
The six men are aged between 26 and 71 and are attached to all parts of the gas drilling rig machinery and trucks that are on the drilling site, locking the site down and preventing all coal seam gas drilling work.
This morning’s action is an escalation of mounting conflict over coal seam gas drilling in the region. Further north, a business analyst from Coonabarabran remains locked to a truck in Bellata that was en route to the Pilliga forest. Their actions come after a grandmother of five from Armidale was last night arrested for blockading a truck on its way into the forest.
Neil Kennedy, a farmer born in Coonamble shire on edge of Pilliga is taking part in the action and said, “Santos is drilling holes through our underground water supply, including the recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin. Coal seam gas fields will ultimately destroy the Great Artesian Basin, and people will not be able to live in this region.
"The National Party totally let us down on coal seam gas, they have betrayed us. I can’t believe their short-sightedness in putting our water at risk.”
Robert Thomas, has been a farmer from the Gulargambone area his whole life and owns his own truck contracting business and said, “This industry cannot provide the guarantee I need that our water won’t be contaminated by coal seam gas activities. Santos’ own reports admit the risk of damaging groundwater, our most vital resource.”
James Nalder, a mixed cropping and beef cattle farmer from Coonamble whose family has been in the district since 1926 said, “For me, it’s all about the need to protect the Great Artesian Basin for both the environment and our agricultural land. Water is the most precious resource on the earth and it should be treated as such, rather than being damaged or destroyed.”
Josh Borowski is a third generation farmer of Coonamble/Pilliga area and said, “I’m concerned at the Government’s unwillingness to protect our future and our children’s future. We want to be able to sustainably produce food and live in a clean and healthy way.”
Coonamble farmer Charles Buchanan said, "The groundwater flowing beneath the Pilliga is absolutely critical to life and industry out here. The coal seam gas only lasts 10 -20 years or so, but our farming lasts lifetimes.”
Ken Waterford, a farmer from Coonamble said, "We are not going to sit by while Santos punches a gas field through our water resource.”