Farmers have travelled hundreds of kilometres to deliver a petition to Energy Minister Matt Kean’s Hornsby electorate office, demanding he reject Santos’ planned Hunter Gas Pipeline on the eve of Friday’s National Cabinet energy crisis meeting.
About 215 landholders signed the petition demanding Mr Kean reject the pipeline, which would carve a 30 metre wide corridor through some of the state’s best farmland and ecologically significant habitat between Newcastle and Narrabri.
The delivery of the petition comes just days after farmers defeated another high pressure gas pipeline planned to transport gas from Santos’ proposed 850 well gasfield within the Pilliga Forest. While the Hunter Gas Pipeline corridor was approved in 2009, the project does not have an authority to survey or a pipeline licence.
Santos' gas exploration plans in the area also threaten a colony of koalas that are part of a trial where researchers are testing a vaccine for chlamydia. Mr Kean is now poised to make a decision on the pipeline’s Authority to Survey and will then decide whether to grant a Pipeline Licence.
Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord spokesperson Margaret Fleck said farmers were determined to stop Santos’ pipeline.
“Gas companies have caused the energy crisis by shipping domestic gas offshore and charging Aussies exorbitant prices to maximise their profits.
“More gas is not the answer, it will only make the problem worse - the solution is a rapid shift to renewable energy, and that’s the message Matt Kean should be taking to national cabinet.
“Matt Kean can either send Santos and its gas pipeline plans packing, or he will condemn farmers and landholders to a bitter battle against this oil and gas giant.
“Farmers and landholders all along the planned pipeline routes are locking their gates. They are refusing to engage with Santos or their agents and they are not signing land survey agreements.
“Santos and the Perrottet Government will find that opposition to this pipeline in our region is not going away, and farmers will not back down.
“Governments should be cracking down on gas cartel operators like Santos and its corporate profiteering, not gifting them new pipeline approvals. It's time governments stopped helping gas companies rip off Australians and trample over farmers and communities.
The pipeline corridor travels along the back boundary of Virginia Congdon’s Westbrook property in the Upper Hunter Valley.
She said the pipeline would threaten the environment, the insurability of her property, its value, and was a fire risk.
“It would require a lot of environmental damage and it’s an obscene imposition on landholders who have to modify their lives for a project that is outdated and not wanted.
“The pipeline corridor was approved in 2009 - all the environmental impacts and assessments that went with it are outdated.
“It also takes away from the conversation we should be having about renewable technology and implementing it. That’s where the smart money is going, and where the government’s attention should be.”