The Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Free Community Strategy has snowballed since The Channon community displayed their commitment last month. A YouTube clip of the event has gone viral. Many roads around our shires are declaring themselves CSG free.
Building on this momentum will be the CSG Free Northern Rivers Rally – Rock the Gate at Riverside Park, Lismore this Saturday at 10am. A procession will march from there through to the streets of Lismore, then return to enjoy music and speakers until sunset. The event is free and child friendly.
Organisers are hoping for a crowd of 10,000. It is highly achievable when you consider the number of people who are aware of and oppose CSG in the Northern Rivers. Organisers say they’ve been overwhelmed with entertainers wanting to perform free of charge at the rally. The program is diverse and will flow all day.
Boudicca Cerese, joint regional coordinator of Lock the Gate Northern Rivers, stresses that ‘awareness is just one stage in this movement. Engagement is step two.’
Many of us have been touched by the personal stories told by individuals and families directly affected by CSG mining near their homes. Not only will huge crowd numbers send a clear message of a ‘CSG-Free Northern Rivers’ to our political representatives, it will show empathy and encouragement to already-affected individuals.
Boudicca has just returned from the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) conference in Coffs Harbour last weekend, where representatives from different groups and alliances came together to discuss impending state environmental issues. A whole day was dedicated to the impacts of mining.
‘Understandably, CSG mining has really caught the imagination of the media; CSG mining impacts are spread over a wider surface area than, say, coal. But there are other resources that when mined cause major threats to ecosystems such as coal, gold, antimony and copper,’ she tells Echonetdaily.
Coal and gold mining have been part of white settlement culture. Our perceived immunity to the impacts of those mining models seems apathetic when we compare our reaction to coal-seam gas mining.
Boudicca said, ‘for some time it has been accepted that coal is how we get our energy. There are huge open-cut coal mines that want to expand. One example is at Leard State Forest near Boggabri, a mine wanting to completely clear fell 5,000 hectares. There will also be serious water-quality impacts and air pollution. The impacts of coal mining are very much a focus of Lock the Gate but the media and group focus at the moment is CSG mining.’
Sustainable industries seem a no-brainer when we know the impacts of fossil fuels and their finite lives. It is hard to believe that elected representatives are not factoring such common sense into policy.
‘What is the point of switching over to other fossil fuels? The gas resource may only last 20–30 years. What is the point of spending massive amounts of money on infrastructure and huge subsidies and have a massive environmental footprint, when we end up at the same point that we are at now, only worse,’ Boudicca says.
If you haven’t yet voiced your concerns about the possible mining impacts on the Northern Rivers there is still a window of opportunity. The formal exhibition period for the NSW State Planning Departments Strategic Land Use Policy has been extended to 14 May to ensure that all members of the public and interested stakeholders have the opportunity to have their say. Go to http://haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/regionallanduse.
Great weather is predicted for the weekend so Rock the Gate organisers are hoping that concerned Northern Rivers residents will make an effort and join their neighbours in a cause that will affect us all. This is an opportunity for people to exercise participative democracy as well as have a positive and uplifting day out with the community. Lismore locals are being encouraged to walk to Riverside Park and people driving are encouraged to fill up their cars with friends and family. A mass rally will engage a lot more people and inspire more gates, roads and communities to declare themselves CSG free.
For more details go to http://www.csgfreenorthernrivers.org/?p=677.