The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is to consider raising the proposed Lions Way coal-seam gas pipeline with the Australian government thanks to the gutsy actions of one Northern Rivers activist.
The yet-to-be-approved Lions Way pipeline, which is being heavily talked up by CSG company Metgasco, would carve its way through the magnificent Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area in northern New South Wales.
Recent investigations by Group Against Gas (GAG) Kyogle revealed that UNESCO, the international body governing the World Heritage Convention, was completely unaware of the plans.
So Leah Hobbs, president of the group, took matters into her own hands. She found a phone number for UNESCO on the web and before she knew it was talking to Kishore Rao, the director of the World Heritage Centre at the UNESCO office in France
‘Mr Rao advised me that UNESCO knew nothing of the Lions Way pipeline proposal and he asked me to send information about the project so that they can take the matter up with the Australian government,’ said Ms Hobbs.
‘He very pleased that ordinary Australians like myself are taking matters into our own hands when it comes to protecting our world-class natural areas. As I said to Mr Rao, it shouldn’t be up to landholders to defend these areas, it should be governments who are doing this.’
According to GAG spokesperson Boudicca Cerese, the federal government is refusing to assess the impacts of the proposal on the World Heritage Area.
‘The GAG petition with 1500 signatures calling on the government to broaden the assessment requirements was recently tabled in federal parliament by member for Page Janelle Saffin,’ said Ms Cerese.
She added that Minister Burke’s representative said the potential impacts on World Heritage values were ‘not deemed to be significant’.
‘We contest this finding and we have obtained expert scientific advice that suggests that the impacts would be significant,’ said Ms Cerese.