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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Ballina locals express CSG fears

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The threat of coal-seam gas (CSG) mining on the north coast continues to draw big crowds to public meetings, with more than 350 Ballina locals attending one this week.

Ballina Greens Cr Jeff Johnson said it was obvious from the large attendance at the Ballina RSL Club on Tuesday night that there was a lot of concern about the threat that CSG mining posed to the region.

Cr Johnson told Echonetdaily that the meeting heard of the plans to turn the northern rivers into a gas field with the possibility of an offshore processing facility off the coast of Ballina.

He told the meeting that Arrow Energy held the rights to a petroleum exploration licence (PEL) covering the entire Ballina Shire and that ‘if you own property in the Ballina Shire, then your land is at risk’.

He said major concerns raised at the meeting included: potential impacts on the aquifers below the Alstonville/Wollongbar Plateau, the threat to rural communities and farmland, a drop in property values, property rights, the impacts of millions of litres of waste water being discharged into the Richmond River, the chemicals used in the process and the large amount of salt.

‘The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has already given approval for Metgasco to dump more than four million litres of waste water into the Richmond River, and this is only the testing phase,’ he said.

‘It is estimated that 1,000 wells – and there are plans for lots more – will produce over 15,000 tonnes of salt per year and over five gigalitres of waste water.

‘I have great concerns about the impact that CSG mining is already having, let alone what the mining companies have planned for our beautiful region.’

Speakers at the meeting included Sue Higginson, a senior solicitor with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO); Dr Marian Lloyd-Smith, from the National Toxics Network; Dr Wayne Somerville, a consulting psychologist; and Lock the Gate Northern Rivers members Ian Gaillard and Boudicca Cerese.

Image: Ian Gaillard, Boudicca Cerese, Dr Wayne Sommerville, Dr Marian Lloyd-Smith (seated) and Cr Jeff Johnson after the CSG meeting this week.


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  1. Locals have every cause for concern. Coal seem gas mining is one of the most pollutive and unnecessary industries on earth any politician who supports it should be immediately removed from office and held in breach of trust.

    Its time for the people to put politicians back in there rightful place in our social structure as the servants of the people that they actually are.

    The politicians do not rule the people, we rule them and its high time we exercised our true inherent rights because if we fail to do so these psychopaths will not stop until this country is a wasteland in order to make a quick buck at the expense of all.

  2. I attended the Ballina coal seam gas education awareness forum on 31st July, and was absolutely astounded that only two Ballina Shire councillors were in attendance – Cr Jeff Johnson who was MC and Cr Sue Meehan who was in the audience.

    This was an exceptional opportunity to find out all about the effects of csg, yet the Ballina Council did not even send its own planning or executive staff along, nor did it endorse its councillors to attend.

    I did, however, see the Council’s Strategic Planner, who said he was there in his own right as a private individual. He then got up and moved to the opposite end of the auditorium so I could not speak with him further.

    What a dreadful “poor show” on behalf of Ballina Council and its elected representatives.

    I urge all voters to find out why this forum (put on by The Ballina Environment Society and The Greens) was boycotted in this way.

    We need councillors from September onwards who will put politics aside and learn to understand the real issues to do with mining and csg so our farmland can be preserved as a food source for future generations. We need our aquifers preserved, because there is no life without water.

    We don’t need councillors who know it all because they get up at 4am each day and listen to the ABC news. We need councillors like Jenny Dowell and Simon Clough who get out among the people and find out first hand the devastation the mining industry is causing.

    Some of the Ballina councillors tendered apologies to the Ballina forum because they were listening to the Labour Party speaker, Janelle Saffin MP, at the Alstonville Chamber of Commerce instead. One of those councillors has even declared a pecuniary interest in a coal seam gas mining company!

    But wasn’t it Labour which got us into this terrible mess over csg and open cut mining? Wasn’t it Labour which issued the mining rights to the overseas multinationals? And wasn’t it the Nationals who blame Labour, yet have done nothing to curb the devastation the mining industry is causing in rural Australia.

    Family life is being fragmented by husbands working in the mines as FIFOs for three weeks straight with a week off at home. Sure, they earn big money – some as high as $20,000 a month as night time equipment refuellers! But money isn’t everything.

    Our local builders are going broke, our tradesmen are non-existent because they are working in the mines, and the resultant flow-on effect is going to take decades to recover.

    At the next election, vote for councillors who have made a positive effort to understand the effects of csg and open cut coal mining, not those who run away with poor excuses.

    Margaret Howes
    320 Moylans Lane
    Empire Vale 2478
    [email protected]
    Phone – 0428-878-505


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