The NSW Perrottet Government’s cancellation of some coal seam gas petroleum exploration licences but the renewal of others has angered impacted farmers on the Liverpool Plains.
On the day before Good Friday, the Perrottet Government publicly revealed it had renewed three giant exploration licences (PEL 1, PEL 12, and PEL 238), all owned or majority owned by Santos.
Parts of two of those licences cover more than half a million hectares of the Liverpool Plains - a world renowned food bowl and a region heavily dependent on groundwater.
Since then, numerous community meetings have been held, and farmers from throughout the district remain determined to overturn the renewal of the three tenements.
While it formally cancelled three remaining PELs today, the government appears yet to make a decision about the final remaining "zombie" petroleum licence 427, located west of Moree.
Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck, whose property is covered by renewed PEL 12 said the Perrottet Government appeared willing to sacrifice the food producing potential of the Liverpool Plains, and all who lived there, to Santos and the unconventional gas industry.
“It’s great for the folks who live in areas where tenements have been extinguished, but we on the Liverpool Plains can’t help but feel we have been made a sacrifice zone since the Perrottet Government has reinstated the CSG licences covering our properties," she said.
“Birds fly upside down when they pass over the Liverpool Plains to avoid mucking it up, but the Perrottet Government has given Santos the green light to pockmark it with gas wells and drain the aquifers that sustain our businesses and towns.
“Our concern has always been about the impact this industry will have on groundwater. Allowing Santos to expand over the Liverpool Plains will jeopardise the viability of farming businesses. We live in an environment where most forms of farming are dependent on groundwater. The renewal by the Perrottet Government of Santos’ coal seam gas tenements puts all that at risk.”
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “While many people are now relieved their homes and businesses are no longer covered by CSG tenements, it is a ghoulish move by the Perrottet Government to sacrifice the Liverpool Plains to unconventional gas.
“The decision to renew some CSG licences and not others appears to be arbitrary and is a slap in the face for farmers on the Liverpool Plains, who only recently drove off coal mining company Shenhua’s project after a bitter decade long battle.”