NORTH West anti-coal seam gas groups want a guarantee that gas giant Santos will consult with the community before it goes ahead with its exploration drilling program.
It comes after The Leader reported the company’s NSW spokesman saying Santos was not advancing its drilling program after the groups accused it of doing so.
NSW Public Affairs principal adviser Sam Crafter had said as those drilling sites – which the company hopes to begin early next year – were subject to the approvals process, none of the sites were certain.
Mr Crafter said that information would be given to the groups when the approvals process was complete.
Now the groups, including the Wilderness Society and the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, want Santos to come to the community before the sites are finalised.
Wilderness Society spokeswoman Naomi Hogan brought attention to Santos’ website, which says “there will be extensive community consultation carried out prior to the drilling program getting underway.”
Northern Inland Council for the Environment spokeswoman Carmel Flint said they wanted genuine community engagement as promised.
“We don’t want them to go ahead with drilling without community engagement,” Ms Flint said.
Mr Crafter said Santos was following the proper consultation procedures, including regular updates to its Community Consultative Committee, made up of local interest groups and landholders.
He said they dealt with landholders first and all the other different interest groups at different times.
Mr Crafter questioned why the local campaigners wanted to know where the supposed drill sites were so much in the first instance, suggesting it was to put pressure on the landholders who had signed access agreements.
“People do have the right to say yes,” he said.
On top of the community committee process, Mr Crafter said Santos ran a number of other initiatives to inform the community, such as open days.
He said the company would engage with groups and talk them through the program.