The Stokers Siding-Dunbible Hall was once again, as it has been for generations, the centre of community celebrations at the weekend as Stokers Siding village and surrounding areas were declared CSG-free.
‘We were delighted, but not surprised, that 96.4 per cent of respondents to road surveys in the area supported the declaration,’ according to Lock the Gate – Tweed’s Michael McNamara.
‘Every community contained in the existing Arrow Energy exploration licence area (PEL445) has now declared itself CSG-free, demonstrating that Arrow Energy has no social licence to operate in the Tweed Shire.’
He added that the group’s survey of Tweed Shire councillor candidates had put pressure on candidates to commit to action against CSG once elected.
The long list of Tweed’s existing CSG-free communities now includes Tyalgum, Crystal Creek, Doon Doon, Mt Burrell, Kunghur, Uki, Burringbar, Crabbes Creek and Mooball.
Even with communities covering over half of Tweed Shire declared CSG-free the initiative maintains its momentum.
Residents of Murwillumbah and small nearby communities such as Dungay, Tomewin and Nunderi will have an opportunity to get involved in the CSG-free Communities initiative at a community meeting to be held on Wednesday 19 September at the Civic Centre in Murwillumbah.
For those who want to find out about how bad coal-seam gas is, there will be a video at 6pm. For those who already know what they think the community meeting commences at 7.15pm. There will be hot food available from 6.45pm.
‘I strongly encourage Murwillumbah residents to attend and make their views known about declaring Murwillumbah CSG-free,’ Mr McNamara said. ‘All communities in the Tweed that have been surveyed have returned figures indicating that over 95 per cent of respondents support their community being CSG-free and the average is running at about 97 per cent.
‘That is more than 19 out of every 20 people asked!
‘The road survey results have been validated by the poll conducted at Lismore showing 87 per cent of voters opposed to CSG in the area. The individual polling booth results for communities that had participated in the CSG-free Communities initiative had a strong correlation to the road survey outcomes.
‘Despite our obvious preferences, this process is about surveying community members to gain their views whatever they may be. Respondents have the opportunity to answer Yes, No or Unsure to the survey.
‘The success of the CSG-free Communities initiative in the Tweed put immense pressure on candidates in the local government elections to commit to vote for and support action by council to reflect these very strong expressions of the community’s will.
‘Communities now expect elected councillors to take strong, positive action to protect the Tweed shire from the threat of coal-seam gas operations.
‘There are many things that local councils can do to support their community’s desire to remain CSG-free.
‘These include placing restrictions on seismic testing, imposing development approval conditions that prohibit CSG operations, removing delegated authority for any development applications that relate to CSG operations and banning CSG operations on any land where council is considered the landowner – to list just a few’
Image: Julie McNamara, Barry Longland and Michael McNamara join with locals to declare Stokers Siding community CSG-free. Photo Peta O’Neill