Gunnedah councillor protests in SA

A GUNNEDAH shire councillor has travelled to South Australia to take part in a protest against regional gas giant Santos.

The company’s Tour Down Under cycling race was under way at Adelaide when Gunnedah councillor David Quince and several environmentalists dressed in koala costumes sent a clear message to Santos’s presence in the Pilliga forest and on local farmland.

The “koala peloton” took to their bikes and joined other cyclists who were taking part in the race in Victoria Square, Adelaide, on Saturday morning.

While the protesters said they had the greatest respect for the cycling event, they did not respect its sponsor Santos risking the water supplies of the Great Artesian Basin.

A group of environmental protesters from the Wilderness Society staged a similar cycling protest when Santos held its North West tour in June last year.

Cr Quince, also a local grazier, said the real cycle Santos brought to the North West region was a cycle of destruction from coal seam gas.

“(It) will alienate some of our best farmland, risk our groundwater supplies and cause land values to plummet,” Cr Quince said. 

The councillor, a member of the Mullaley Gas Pipeline Accord against coal seam gas operations, said he travelled to Adelaide to highlight how Santos’s project threatened the Liverpool Plains.

Wilderness Society campaigner Naomi Hogan said their cycling took a very different route to Santos’s.

“We are here with a message for Santos: ‘Get on ya bike’ and leave our forest home free from your dangerous gas rigs, spills and leaking pipes,” she said.

In Adelaide, they did a circle of Victoria Square before heading to Santos’s headquarters in Flinders St. Yesterday, a contingent of the group stayed behind to speak to Santos representatives about their concerns about coal seam gas drilling across Gunnedah’s agricultural region and the threatened species habitat of the Pilliga forest.

Cr Quince said the company’s plans for gas pipelines and infrastructure were incompatible with blacksoil farming country.

“The erosion will make life impossible for all of us,” he said.

Ms Hogan said they requested the company to stop all coal seam gas exploration and drilling in the Pilliga forest until Santos completed a comprehensive survey of the vulnerable Pilliga mouse, found only in the region.

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