NARRABRI was the latest regional centre to host a coal seam gas meeting and attracted about 120 residents on Wednesday night.
The event is part of a series, with meetings already held in Tamworth and Gunnedah. One will be held tonight in Moree.
Wee Waa resident Victoria Hamilton, a member of the Santos Community Consultative Committee, said she found the Narrabri meeting informative, with concerns raised about what was going to happen if gasfields were expanded to tens of thousands of wells.
“We are currently being drip-fed proposals for five coal seam gas wells here, or 50 over the region, but in reality a viable gasfield development would involve tens of thousands of wells, turning North West NSW into an industrial zone,” Mrs Hamilton said.
Eastern Star Gas approached them, and other landholders, in 2010 to do seismic testing on some land they owned; they all said no.
This encouraged Mrs Hamilton to research coal seam gas. She said she was concerned about coal seam gas’s effects on water.
“I have been researching it and arguing against it for the past two years intensely,” she said.
“The underground water around Narrabri is the only reliable water we have to drink. We don’t have any Warragamba Dams.”
Mrs Hamilton said Santos was proposing to build 200 wells around Narrabri, but she suggested to Santos community relations spokesman Sam Crafter that there would be 20,000 wells. He said there would be at least that, but not necessarily all of Santos’s.
“It’s going to be massive,” she said.
Another speaker, Mark Ogge of the Australia Institute, said gas prices would be driven up, not down, by large-scale coal seam gas fields.
“The vast majority of the coal seam gas is planned for export to the Asian market, raising Australia’s gas prices to meet the higher overseas rates,” he said.
There was a lot of concern from people about the effects of the coal and gas belt around the area, including risks to water and the impact the industry will have on communities, the Leard State Forest and the environment.