A small victory for coal seam gas protesters

PROTESTERS succeeded in stopping work at the Santos coal seam gas operation in the Pilliga for two hours yesterday before police broke up the blockade.

The presence of about 20 local anti-CSG campaigners forced the company to halt construction of a flowline designed to transport toxic water away from the site.

Santos is drilling 16 appraisal wells to assess the size of gas reserves in the area, as well as restarting wells drilled by Eastern Star Gas prior to its takeover.

Pilliga resident Maria Rickert joined the protest to voice her fears about the proposed gasfield’s impact on her tourism business and groundwater supply.

“It’s appalling that we’ve come to the point where ordinary citizens and property owners have to take time and risks to themselves to stop a dangerous industry from doing irreparable damage to our water resources,” she said.

Narrabri farmer Stuart Murray said the state and federal governments, as well as Santos, were ignoring the community’s “clear requests” to remain CSG-free. 

“We are all questioning why Santos has been allowed to lay such costly and extensive pipelines across the forest when they are only supposed to be in their coal seam gas exploration phase,” he said.

A Santos spokeswoman stressed the company had all the necessary regulatory approvals in place to carry out the work.

“While we acknowledge and respect the right of individuals to lawfully and safely protest, we are committed to carrying out this work in a safe and timely manner,” she said.

“While we have support locally for our activities, we continue to engage with the community to build additional support and understanding of our work and address concerns they may have.”

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