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Leave it in the ground: Plains community unites against Santos

The Liverpool Plains community will unite this weekend to demand Santos abandon its plans for coal seam gas drilling and a high pressure gas pipeline in the world renowned food and fibre growing region.

Coal seam gas opponents and community members are expected to flock to the Spring Ridge Country Club for the "Save the Plains; Leave It in The Ground" festival, with Golden Guitar winners Luke O’Shea and Allan Caswell headlining the event, supported by Luke Vassella.

While forcing Santos off the Liverpool Plains is the festival’s primary focus, event organiser and Liverpool Plains farmer Nicky Chirlian said there was a larger goal.

“If we stop Santos building new gasfields on the Liverpool Plains, and we stop Santos building its Hunter Gas Pipeline, then the business case for the company’s Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga Forest becomes much harder for it to justify to its investors,” she said.

“Despite originally denying it, Santos’ intention has always been to build gasfields in the Liverpool Plains to increase the viability of its gasfield in the Pilliga, and the Berijiklian-Perrottet Governments knew it*. But communities won’t let Santos drill this region’s rich black soils.

“The sustainable, ongoing production of food and fibre on the Liverpool Plains is worth so much more than Santos’ temporary, polluting gas projects. The Perrottet Government made a grave error in allowing Santos to explore for gas here, and farmers won’t forget it.”

Walhallow Land Council Chief Executive Officer Jason Allan said Santos’ gasfield plans threatened peoples’ way of life on the Liverpool Plains.

“It’s important that we maintain the farming land on the Liverpool Plains for future generations. It’s our main source of employment and wealth, and we don’t want it destroyed for something that offers us no value at all,” he said.

“Santos is offering nothing for our community. There will be no financial benefit if Santos is allowed to build its gasfields.”

Assistant Secretary of Unions NSW Vanessa Seagrove will speak at the event.

“The NSW union movement stands in support of the Gomeroi and Gamilaraay First Nations people in their self-determination over their lands in the Pilliga. We are campaigning with all local communities to stop Santos from destroying the Pilliga. We are ready to support communities in the Liverpool Plains to stop Santos,” she said.

“Union members from across our state are joining our campaign with the Gomeroi and Gamilaraay people to stop any attempt by Santos to go ahead with this reckless destruction.

“There are huge volumes of Australian gas exported overseas, with the balance being sold to us at inflated prices. This is a policy crisis.

“We call on all levels of government to take whatever action necessary to honour the wishes of First Nations people and local communities to stop Santos destroying this land and threatening the water in the great artesian basin that sits below it.”


*Background: In a letter to a Liverpool Plains farmer concerned about the expansion of coal seam gas fields in the region, Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier Gurmesh Singh MP writes, “The remaining PELS (petroleum exploration licences) in NSW have been retained to support the long-term future of the Narrabri Gas Project”.

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