Gas development is so risky a $50 million local agribusiness has been unwilling to invest due to their fear of the Narrabri Gas Project, the Independent Planning Commission has been told.
Sarah Ciesiolka told the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on Tuesday the threats posed by the scheme have hung over her head for years.
Her 50-year-old agribusiness produces about $50 million worth of potatoes, peanuts and grain per year and employs 20 permanent and seasonal staff, but are one of the closest large-scale irrigators to the proposed $3.6 billion scheme.
"We hear business groups crow about the supposed benefits CSG would bring to our region. For our business however we could have doubled our employment and production capacity in recent years as requested by our supply chain partners," she said.
"But have been unable to justify the very substantial investment decisions due to the threat of CSG extraction nearby."
Some 59 speakers were slated to give their views on the plan to sink as many as 850 gas wells in and around the Pilliga forest near Narrabri on Tuesday.
On Monday the IPC heard the first of what will be seven days of testimony about the scheme, which has been controversial since Eastern Star Gas discovered the fossil fuel in the area 20 years ago.
Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher told the inquiry on Monday that it's important to him and everyone at the company that no harm be caused by the project.
President of the Narrabri and District Chamber of Commerce Russell Stewart said local business is strongly in favor of the scheme.
But on Tuesday speaker after speaker lined up to condemn the project as a threat to water, health and the planet's climate, among other issues.
Jacinta Green fromSave Our Soil Liverpool Plains told the Inquiry she was concerned the gas plan was just the start of a plan to develop the entire region for gas.
Rohan Boehm from People for the Plains told the IPC the plan was not economically viable because unsubsidised gas mining can't compete with renewable energy. He said the mining scheme would leave a stranded asset, leading to permanent environmental costs but few economic benefits.
Gomeroi Traditional custodian Maria Cutmore, one of the first speakers on Tuesday, compared the project to massacres of Aboriginal Australians during colonisation.
"My people have been suffering and we can't suffer no more," she told the IPC through tears.
"How much more do we have to put up with in our country? You can't destroy the water on us.
"We've had this done to us over and over for 250 years.
"It started with the massacres, it started with the bushfires, the destruction of our country.
"We want to be able to live and enjoy life in our country. We can't have this any more."