MORE than 20 community members stood their ground on Friday on a crown land road that leads to one of Santos’ coal seam gas (CSG) drill rigs in the Pilliga Forest.
Local farmers are claiming they have been advised by a government department that Santos had illegally blocked a crown road in order to conduct drilling.
The community is claiming their legal right to occupy the crown land and highlight the danger they claim that CSG drilling in the Pilliga represents to community assets, water resources and natural areas.
President of the NSW Artesian Bore Water Users Association, Anne Kennedy, supports the community in taking a stand.
“This week we have seen the Federal Government hand over their environmental protection responsibilities to the NSW Government, while the NSW Government changed their mining policy to put economic interests over environmental and community concerns,” Ms Kennedy said.
“We feel we have been backed into a corner by governments refusing to listen to us or to consider the impacts of the potential loss of our groundwater if this gasfield is developed.
“Community members are stepping up to protect our groundwater and defend this recharge zone of our precious Great Artesian Basin from CSG industrialisation.”
Bundella Farmer Megan Kuhn has similar concerns.
“Here in North West New South Wales we are currently facing an enormous challenge that we certainly didn’t ask for,” she said.
“Our communities, our water resources and our farmlands are all threatened by a coal seam gas invasion.
“Santos has no social licence to operate and they are forcing themselves on concerned rural communities.
“We are standing on this road to highlight Santos’ unacceptable behaviour in fencing off our crown roads for their private drilling activities,” she said.
Gomeroi Elder Maureen Sulter was on site on Friday and shared a message, “Winangaya dhawun – respect the land”.
“It’s a powerful time out in the Pilliga at the moment, with many people coming together from across the region to protect this place from coal seam gas mining,” she said.