Two women in their forties were arrested in the Pilliga forest of North West NSW this morning standing in the way of a truck convoy of Santos coal seam gas drill rig equipment. Santos was using a police escort to move the controversial drilling trucks through the forest in response to ongoing and escalating protests in the forest over the past week.
Seven people, including North West NSW locals and supporters, have now been arrested in the Pilliga this week, joined by large numbers of local community members visiting the Pilliga site to protest the Santos coal seam gas drilling activity.
Cherie Robinson and her husband are dry-land crop farmers from a property between Pilliga and Coonamble.
Mrs Robinson said, “I am very concerned about the impact of coal seam gas on groundwater resources, especially now, whilst my farm suffers the effects of severe water shortages as a result of the drought. Compounding the problem by risking of coal seam gas draw downs and groundwater contamination is too much to bear.”
Local Pilliga business and tourism operator of 30 years Maria Rickert joined the community stand against Santos coal seam protest over recent days.
“As a local business operator in the Pilliga, I am shocked Santos has decided to use this heavy handed approach, police escort and forest lock outs to shove their way through community concerns with their coal seam gas drilling.
“Local people have tried all manner of letter writing and Narrabri Council requests to raise our concerns with the impacts of these coal seam gas fields in our region, yet we are being put in a position where we are risking arrest in order for Santos and the Government to take heed of our message.
“Santos has said publicly they will not go where they are not wanted, so why are they are forcing themselves through local farmers, townspeople and business operators who are clearly saying we do not want to endure the risks of coal seam gas to our region and water resources?
“I’m concerned the public are going to lose access to our forests and farms in the region as Santos rolls out their plans for industrial coal seam gas lock out zones and what could become no-go wastelands,” said Mrs Rickert.
The two women arrested this morning, Cherie Robinson from Coonamble Shire, and Katherine Marchment who travelled from Victoria to support friends facing gasfields in the NSW North West, are currently being processed by police.