The first Santos rig drilling for coal seam gas in the Pilliga is today the site of direct action protest, as grandmother and author, Sharyn Munro, joins 20 locals in halting Santos’ drilling operations in the area, calling for the Sydney catchment coal seam gas moratorium to be extended to protect Pilliga groundwater.
Farmers from across the NSW North West who are opposed to Santos’ plans for industrial gasfields in the region have left their farms at this busy time of year to join Munro in the direct action protest, blocking access to the rig from the road, calling for the protection of water resources and for Santos to leave the North-West.
Munro said, “Grandmothers like me are being forced to take action due to the threat of coal and gasfield industrialisation across Australia. So many parts of our beautiful country will be unliveable with all the extraction going on.”
“The Pilliga is an important recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin. There's a moratorium on gas drilling in Sydney's water catchment: this aquifer is essential for the North-West region and should be protected, too, not put at risk with an industrial coal seam gas field.
Munro travelled widely to coal- and gas-impacted communities while writing her book, Rich Land, Wasteland: “I have travelled to many regions in Queensland and New South Wales that are totally dependent on groundwater aquifers for water. I find it shocking that gas companies and our governments are happy to place at risk our most precious natural resource and that the moratorium on coal seam gas in Sydney's water has not been extended out here."
Willala farmer Alistair Donaldson was among the protesting farmers at the rig site today, at a time of year when farmers are generally busy harvesting, sowing and checking stock water.
Mr Donaldson said, “We’ve seen what industrial gasfields look like in Queensland, and we don't want it for North-West NSW. We have come here today to stop Santos getting a foothold in the Pilliga as a Trojan horse to industrialise our landscape."