COAL seam gas has split Narrabri residents into two distinct factions, with more than half opposed to Santos’ $3 billion project.
Attitudes revealed in a North West Alliance and Lock the Gate survey show the majority of respondents are concerned about the 850 well gasfield proposed for the Pilliga.
“This survey needs to be taken into account because on of the requirements of the planning process is social acceptance – it’s apparent it’s not socially accepted even in the town of Narrabri,” Lock the Gate North West coordinator Jane Judd said.
“There is an alternative and that’s renewables that promise long term jobs and the energy we require.”
Concerns put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency and Rural Fire Service are yet to be addressed by Santos.
The sate government agencies have highlighted issues with salt disposal, inadequate monitoring of water and air quality and the risk of gas flaring creating a fire danger.
Santos already operates exploration wells in Narrabri, supplying the Wilga Park power station.
It generates enough electricity to power around 17,500 households in northwest NSW, a Santos spokeswoman said.
“Community exposure to emissions from the oil and natural gas industry is much lower than that of people who work in our industry,” she said.
“The environmental impact statement for the Narrabri Gas Project has found that there are no adverse community health and wellbeing risks associated with the project.
“Santos has made it clear salt will only be disposed at a facility licensed for this purpose, the project will produce an average of 48 tonnes of salt per day, much less than is already being produced and disposed safely in the region.”
The Department of Planning and Environment has requested a meeting with Santos to discuss the concerns further.