After years of delays, the NSW state government has approved the expansion of the controversial Narrabri gas project, despite opposition from many in the local community.
The project, which was opposed by the vast majority of submissions during the consultation process, could involve up to 850 new coal seam gas wells being drilled on 1,000 hectares of a 95,000 hectare site covering the Pilliga forest and nearby farm land.
If you've never seen a gas drilling site up close, they're not pretty.
Towers being raised across the countryside, orange flames from gas flares, glaring floodlights, constant noise from the grind of the drill - and that's not even touching on the potential for land and water pollution from fugitive emissions during the drilling process.
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As a Narrabri local, and a former councillor on the Narrabri Shire Council, seeing Santos' gas project push on ahead, despite the risks to our local environment and farming industry, is disturbing.
Because, despite what Santos' marketing may say, Narrabri will be fracked.
Fracking, also known as 'hydraulic fracturing', involves forcing massive quantities of sand-bearing water, loaded with chemicals, deep underground, to extract gas held in coal seams. It has potential to damage and contaminate underground water reserves, and releases chemicals into the surrounding earth.
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An important point to note in Santos' proposal is that they claim they won't need to frack "at this stage." Those last three words are important.
I am a former gas project worker, and have been involved in coal seam gas drilling projects. Take my word on it, Santos will be fracking at the end of each well life to extract what they can.
The risk of damage to our already-fragile water resources and agricultural land will be huge.
There's also the interests of the local community, which have seemingly been waved aside by the State Government.
There are many of us here in Narrabri, myself included, who have seen the damage that Santos has done to our community in the interests of promoting the gas project.
The State Government claims that the Narrabri gas project will be an economic boon for the north west. That hasn't been our experience in Narrabri so far.
We were promised the world, when Santos first came to town. But over the years, as the drilling got underway, the money and resources we were promised have failed to be realised. The jobs for locals never materialised, beyond a handful of contracts.
The reality is that coal seam gas jobs are highly skilled, specialised roles. Santos has brought in its outside contractors and FIFO workers to do the job, who leave at the end of the contract.
We haven't seen much genuine local benefit from Santos in our town, aside from a lot of marketing from the company, who've branded everything from coffee cups to the local sports team.
And now our State Government has fallen for the spin. But we haven't given up yet. There's still one hurdle for Santos to jump - the project has been referred to the Independent Planning Commission, with recommendations that it be approved "with strict conditions".
One thing is certain - the Narrabri gas project goes ahead, it's the locals who will wear the cost. But we won't go down without a fight.
John Tough is a Narrabri farmer, former councillor on Narrabri Shire Council and a former engineer with Eastern Star Gas