Contemplating and petitioning for a CSG-free future during Saturday’s meeting at the Byron Sports and Cultural Centre. Photo Robbie Warden
Momentum is still building against the coal seam gas (CSG) mining industry in the region despite last week’s announcement by the state government that CSG mining will now be banned within a two kilometre radius of residential areas.
Around 700 attended Saturday’s CSG Free meeting at the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex in Ewingsdale, and unanimously voted to establish a survey team for Byron Bay, which will ask residents if they want their region CSG free.
While the government’s exclusion zone – which also includes horse stud farms and wineries – is a considerable concession, north coast federal ALP MPs and activists say they won’t be backing down until the entire region is free of CSG activity.
Byron CSG Free co ordinator Rosie Lee said of the new zonings, ‘Too bad if you live in a rural area, are a dairy or cattle farmer in Kyogle, or soy bean grower in Casino or an organic farmer in Mullumbimby.’
But local state Nationals MP Don Page told Echonetdaily that ‘The exclusion of all residential and future residential zones is a good outcome, as is the review or audit of all CSG activity in NSW. Having the EPA as the independent regulator is also a positive outcome.’ Mr Page said that the new CSG measures were ‘very much the result of pressure from the Nationals’, who are part of the Liberal/National coalition government. When asked if the Nationals had further plans to curb the CSG industry, he said, ‘I think there could be other initiatives in future.’
Resident Suzie Mylecharane, who was at Saturday’s meeting, told Echonetdaily she agrees with a total ban on fracking.
‘The big gas companies are starting to feel the pinch as we hold things up so we have to keep the pressure on. There are already 5,000 wells in QLD and they are anticipating up to 50,000. Yikes! We have to stop them in their tracks in NSW. Multinational companies are trashing our land.
‘We are fighting for our lives, our children’s lives and their children’s lives! We have to make this the biggest social movement in Australia as our government is betraying us.’
Ms Lee says so far 80 communities have embarked on the process and the results have ranged from 87 per cent to 100 per cent declaring themselves to be gas field free.
‘After the meeting many were moved to tears by the plight of farmers in Tara in QLD and resolved to fight until a total ban was realised.’
For survey start dates and progress in other Byron Shire areas visit www.csgfreebyronshire.org.