NARRABRI is sick of out-of-town coal seam gas protesters speaking on behalf of their community, according to the local chamber of commerce.
Chamber president Russell Stewart said the “vast majority” of Narrabri Shire was pro-Santos – and they’re sick to death of fly-in, fly-out protesters purporting to represent local interests.
“We are sick and tired of people travelling in, annoying us, getting on the television and telling the world what we think,” Mr Stewart said.
“We don’t have a problem with coal seam gas, we have a problem with out-of-towners coming here and revving things up.”
Mr Stewart’s comments follow the arrest of several out-of-town protesters at Santos’ Leewood facility in the Pilliga forest in the past year.
“Not one of the people arrested has been from Narrabri Shire. Surely one Narrabri farmer would have locked on if it was such a big issue?” he said.
Mr Stewart said although the Narrabri Gas Project was yet to “turn a dollar”, Santos was already looking after the Narrabri community.
“Imagine what’s going to happen when they start making money?” he said.
The construction of the Narrabri Gas Project is expected to employ 1100 people for three years.
“At the end of that there will be a minimum of 200 fulltime jobs, where they will employ locals wherever possible – that’s huge money for Narrabri,” Mr Stewart said.
Yes2Gas, an organisation that represents Narrabri businesses that support Santos, said the coal seam gas project was a chance to diversify Narrabri’s economy.
“Narrabri has relied on agriculture for a long time and this is an opportunity to have another industry in our area which we believe will make us an economically stronger shire,” Yes2Gas spokeswoman Louise Tout said.
“Narrabri is not going to grow or move forward if we stay as we are.”
Ms Tout said the community respected locals who were against the project, but warned the out-of-towners to steer clear.
“These protesters are part of a larger anti-fossil fuel movement and they’re not taking into account what Narrabri wants. It’s called the Narrabri Gas Project – it’s about our town and Narrabri’s voice needs to be heard.”