A new report commissioned by Lock the Gate Alliance reveals the destruction the Hunter Gas Pipeline would wreak along the 620km-long NSW section of its route if built.
The pipeline, which was first approved a decade ago, would be built to transport gas from Wallumbilla in Qld via Santos’ Narrabri project to the coast near Newcastle. The proponent has indicated that it may be used to transport CSG from the planned Narrabri Gas Project.
The Cessoils report (available here), which only focused on the NSW section, reveals the HGP corridor mapped by the proponent (200m wide of which 30m will be cleared) extends across:
31 recorded Aboriginal cultural heritage sites
4,446 hectares of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (the top 3.5% of farming soils in the state)
2,721 hectares of erosional soils
1,014 hectares of high quality habitat and three Areas of Regional Koala Significance, including the very important population around Gunnedah.
There are also 2,467 recorded sightings of Koalas within a 10km radius of the pipeline corridor.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said it was worrying that the approvals for the pipeline were now well out of date and yet the proponent was seeking public funds from the Morrison Government to help build the project.
“This pipeline never underwent full scrutiny under Federal Environment laws,” she said.
“There was no Environmental Impact Statement done under Federal environment laws to assess impacts on nationally threatened species.
“Yet this pipeline represents a massive risk to highly erodible soils, to cultural heritage, and to species like the Koala, which suffered massive habitat loss during the 2019/20 bushfires.
“This is not your average suburban gas pipeline - it will require a massive trench to be dug across 620km in NSW. When similar gas pipelines were built in QLD, cattle were lost after falling into the huge ditch.
“The Hunter Gas Pipeline will have a destructive impact on cultural values, farms, and wildlife habitat. A damaging project like this should absolutely not be boosted with public money from the Federal Government.”
Retired soil scientist Ian Daniells, who has significant experience working in the region, said the farming land of the Liverpool Plains was among the best in the world, and a gas pipeline could pose a serious threat to its productivity.
“The soils of the Liverpool Plains are excellent for cropping. They store a lot of moisture, they are highly fertile, and the rainfall in that district is highly suitable for cropping,” he said.
“The soils are risky soils to run a gas pipeline through because they swell and shrink as they become wet or dry.
“If the pipeline company takes out that much land, it’s going to be a loss to agriculture on these highly fertile plains.”
After reviewing the report, Associate Professor Mathew Crowther from the University of Sydney, advised that "The pipeline basically goes right through the ARKS [Areas of Regional Koala Significance] (based on koala records), and clearing could have a massive effect on the koala population here, especially that they depend on larger trees (for food and shelter) in this fragmented habitat".