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April 17, 2021

Farmers call for baseline testing

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CSG drill rig, Pilliga Forest, July 2011. Photo Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr.com
CSG drill rig, Pilliga Forest, July 2011. Photo Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr.com

A successful motion at the NSW Farmers annual conference has unanimously supported a demand for baseline water and soil studies before mining and CSG operations are undertaken.

The motion calling for ‘comprehensive and independent baseline water and soil studies’ was put by Narrabri District Council Chair Matthew Norrie at the Sydney conference yesterday.

Mr Norrie said the action was an indication that New South Wales farmers were ‘craving adequate and robust scientific information in relation to the CSG and mining industries and more sophisticated public debate on this highly contentious issue’.

‘Often the message gets clouded with emotion. We’re not here to scaremonger. We’re farmers and the health of our natural resource base is absolutely vital to the viability of our industry. With adequate testing regimes, we can at least have an informed debate on this issue,’ Mr Norrie said.

‘Baseline data is the key. You need to know what you’re starting with before you can assess an impact. It also ties into the liability issue, which the Chief Scientist of NSW has admitted herself is a flawed and hugely grey area.

‘Assessing long term impact and the liability of companies as to damage to water or land resources starts with the baseline.

‘I’m pleased members were behind our district council on this issue and the motion was passed unanimously,’ Mr Norrie said.

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  1. One problem with ‘baseline testing” and “assessing impacts” is the implication some disruptive actions will be taken that shall be monitored and then compared with these baselines. Sure, do “baseline testing”, but don’t expect the knowledge can safeguard the resources from the disruptive actions. Do independent environmental baseline studies, couple them with socio-economic valuations and compare with case studies right around the globe.

    But the most powerful “key” for farmers (and the rest of us) is to call for developing robust explicit precautionary principles.

    Another approach is to consider various ways to collect energy on a farm. If a farmer wants to compare what can be earned while safeguarding resources, solar energy works become even more attractive investments. German farmers make money collecting and on-selling solar energy. Their water resources are thus safeguarded from impacts of CSG mining. Solar on buildings together with distributed energy networks can transform urban energy needs and also safeguard water resources.

  2. Good plan! Everything within our power needs to be done to keep metgasco and other has companies honest and, even more importantly, liable, should the much expected damage to our environment occur.

  3. Exactly. Let’s measure the damage, not prevent the irremediable in the first place. The gas industry is known to pollute water and air. Baseline testing is prohibitively expensive for individuals. This must be the responsibility of governments. Water is, and must remain, a community resource and protected by government on our behalf. NSW landholders are determined to stop this invasive, property thieving, lying, greedy fly by nigh industry and we are prepared to go to gaol to achieve this.


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