A large crowd has marched through the streets of Narrabri to protest Santos’ coal seam gasfield, as the company faces tough questions from the state agency responsible for water resources over its groundwater impact modelling.
Residents of Narrabri were joined by people from around the North West and beyond to highlight the results of recent door-knocking in Narrabri town that demonstrated overwhelming support (97%) for renewable energy in the region and majority opposition (55%) to Santos’ proposed CSG gasfield.
The event comes after the agency responsible for managing water in NSW criticised Santos’ groundwater assessment for the Narrabri Gas Project, and asked for extensive further work to be done to understand the impact of the project on groundwater.
Commenting on Santos' response to submissions about the gasfield, the Department of Industry - Water has said Santos’ modelling “cannot be relied upon for detailed impact prediction” because it “has not demonstrated an adequate understanding of baseline information and has not proposed a suitable approach to monitoring, modelling and management should the project be approved.” (https://majorprojects.accelo.com/public/7fa26a5ebaf2f10339e031c40751e704/Department%20of%20Industry.pdf)
Great Artesian Basin Protection Group Vice President, Coonamble farmer Anne Kennedy, said the Department’s response was a confirmation of the community’s fears that Santos had been trying to cut corners in its assessment.
“For us in Coonamble, it’s all about the water. That’s why we’re fighting this coal seam gas project tooth and nail: we can’t afford to compromise our precious groundwater. I’m delighted that the Government agencies are starting to ask Santos the hard questions,” she said.
“We’re marching with our friends in Narrabri to show Santos and the NSW Government that all of us in the North West are in this together, for our water, our communities and our kids’ futures.”
Boggabri farmer Sally Hunter said the doorknocking results showed Santos and the Government had misread sentiment in Narrabri, “We kept hearing that people want CSG, but what they want is jobs. The door-knocking results show people in Narrabri are far more eager for renewable energy than Santos’ risky gasfield. We can have energy, jobs and prosperity without CSG.”
Lock the Gate North West Coordinator Meg Leathart said Santos’ proposed project presented an unacceptable risk of long-term damage to the environment and the social fabric of the Narrabri region.
“Santos has been caught out trying to cut corners in the assessment of the impact coal seam gas will have on vitally important water resources,” she said.
“CSG is not needed or wanted in North West New South Wales, and is certainly far too risky in the precious Pilliga forest.”
The protest march is supported by participants of the“Spring into Pilliga” event - a three day gathering in the forest that is expected to draw dozens of people from around the state in support of the local campaign against CSG.