Santos faces an uphill battle as it attempts to build its controversial high-pressure gas pipeline through some of the best farmland in the country, with the company yet to obtain agreements to survey on the vast majority of directly impacted farms.
This morning, the Authority to Survey results for the Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline were published by the NSW Government. The land access would only involve surveying - not the actual construction of the pipeline.
The survey results reveal only 29 directly impacted landholders have agreed to allow HGP surveyors on their properties. There are at least 462 directly impacted landholders along the pipeline corridor between Narrabri and Newcastle alone, and many more “indirectly” impacted landholders and occupiers who would need to agree to allow Santos access for associated pipeline works.
If approved by the Perrottet Government, the ATS would allow Santos to access properties along the pipeline route between Newcastle and Narrabri, despite only 29 landholders having agreed so far.
Lock the Gate Alliance has also received anecdotal reports suggesting HGP only sent access agreement requests to landholders the company believed would respond favourably following initial phone conversations and face to face meetings.
Strangely, HGP claims there is 60% “positive” sentiment towards the pipeline among landholders, however states that these same landholders “do not necessarily agree with the pipeline”.
Santos’ purchase of the Hunter Gas Pipeline, revealed last week, comes after the company revealed it would begin surveying for coal seam gas on petroleum licences in the world renowned foodbowl of the Liverpool Plains.
Willow Tree landowner Brett Holz, whose property is on the pipeline route, said his greatest fear was that the construction of the pipeline would give Santos the incentive to develop gasfields on the Plains.
“I’m dead against gasfields in the productive area around where I live - I understand the Trojan Horse concept and theory of gasfields following this pipeline in our area.
“I don’t want the gas pipeline either because it would likely cross through the creek on our property and the erosion issues that would develop are enormous.
“It’s black soil where the banks of the creek are, and the banks are held together with grasses and groundcovers and once desturbed it will erode over time. I have no doubt Santos would eventually wipe its hands of any damage caused.”
Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord spokesperson Margaret Fleck said, “The lack of specific detail in HGP’s survey report demonstrates how the company struggled to find farmers willing to allow surveys on their properties.
“This report is an attempt by HGP to spin their dismal survey results.
“Applying for an Authority to Survey is proof that farmers have refused Hunter Gas Pipeline access to their land and Santos will now try and force their way on.
“The figures revealed in the ATS are more evidence that demonstrates how difficult it will be for Santos to construct its damaging gas pipeline.”