COAL seam gas exploration will be the main focus of a free workshop tomorrow at the Moree Town and Country Club to inform the community about the legal issues surrounding coal seam gas exploration and production, access arrangements and landholder rights .
There has been mounting community concern in Moree and surrounding areas over the scale and speed of coal seam gas exploration and production.
The coal seam that stretches from northern Queensland right down to the southern highlands of NSW is being dotted with pilot wells and petroleum exploration licences are being handed out at an alarming rate, especially in rural NSW, where farming and crown land is being swallowed up by the petroleum giants.
The exploration method of fracking is still relatively experimental and there are concerns among the residents of Moree that this hydraulic fracturing method may contaminate their water.
The workshop is being run by the EDO, which is a non-government, not-for-profit community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law.
Sue Higginson is a lawyer working for the EDO and she will be one of the representatives at the workshop. Mrs Higginson said the EDO received quite a lot of calls from country areas like Moree, especially as the coal and gas boom continued to grow.
“The workshop will essentially be held as a Q&A session with the community to educate them about the law, andsimply assist them to understand the laws relating to coal seam gas exploration,” Mrs Higginson said.
In response to the communities invitation, author and senior writer with The Australian newspaper, Paul Cleary, will also speak at the workshop about his latest book Mine-Field. In his book Cleary counts the true cost of what he calls Australia’s mineral addiction.
“Whether it be coal seam gas, LNG or coal mega mines, a resource rush is happening in just about every productive corner of our country. Yet at the same time oversight and regulation have been hollowed out. High risk projects are being approved without proper assessment of the long term consequences,” Mr Cleary said.