A delegation of farmers battling unprecedented drought conditions in the north west have traveled to Sydney to demand Santos’ environmentally reckless Narrabri coal seam gas proposal be scrapped.
Their visit coincides with the release of an economic report which reveals CSG from the planned project would be extremely expensive to produce and would not do anything to bring down high gas prices in NSW.
The farmers met with politicians and staff to argue groundwater in the region is too precious to be left in the hands of a company with a polluting reputation like Santos, which wants to build 850 CSG wells near Narrabri through the recharge of the Great Artesian Basin.
The visit comes after Deputy Premier John Barilaro revealed in response to questioning during Senate Estimates recently that there is no intention to introduce a state-specific Standing Expert Body as recommended by the Chief Scientist five years ago as part of her Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW.
The Chief Scientist recommended the Standing Expert Body in order to monitor, inform and review the impacts of the CSG industry.
Liverpool Plains farmer Margaret Fleck said the government and Santos had done nothing to reassure farmers in the half decade since the Chief Scientist’s recommendations were handed down.
“Santos has ignored or rejected requests from Narrabri Council and the local rural fire service to limit the risks of the proposed Narrabri gas project” she said.
“Santos has also refused the EPA’s request to assess the capacity of landfill facilities to accommodate huge volumes of salt waste with potentially high concentrations of metals and other contaminants.
“We know that in Queensland, the coal seam gas industry is responsible for draining bores relied upon by farmers. Why would we want this industry to move in here, particularly when we are dealing with such a severe drought?
“We also know there are 11 zombie petroleum licences waiting to be resurrected should Santos get approval for its destructive Narrabri project. We call on the NSW Nationals to act on their recent resolution to extinguish these zombie licences.”
‘Zombie’ licences are exploration licences which are still technically active despite expiring. They cover 56,000 square kilometres of NSW, mostly in the north-west, and include titles held by Comet Ridge in the Moree area.