Cr Jeff Johnson, Lennox Head
Dart Energy, which lays claim to the expired Petroleum Exploration License (PEL 445), has apparently ‘negotiated’ its renewal so that it can begin preparations to establish a gasfield in the northern rivers.
Our local National Party MPs are talking up the ‘strict new conditions and regulations’ that will form part of the new agreement. To me that’s code for giving the go-ahead for the gas wells, pipelines, compressor stations and millions of litres of ‘produced’ water that would be pumped out of the underground coal seam.
The average productive life of a CSG well is about five years. As has shown to be the case, the contaminated land, leaking gas wells and rusting infrastructure will be leftover as a constant reminder of how our state government ignored the people’s concerns.
The contamination and depressurised aquifers will never be the same again. That scenario will happen if the government allows the mining companies to get a foothold in our region.
Our local National Party MPs should be standing with the community and declaring our region Gasfield Free, not promoting these foreign-owned mining companies ‘financial and technical capacity and good environmental management’. It’s little comfort that the area (most of the Ballina Shire) where Dart hasn’t found profitable gas reserves will be excluded from its new licence.
Our aquifers, creeks, communities, roads, etc don’t stop at electoral boundaries.
The costs associated with the current court action (NSW government v Metgasco) are growing with large compensation payments a possibility. Surely now is not the time to be crowing about ‘strict conditions’ and new licence approvals.
There is growing evidence that CSG mining results in irreversible ground water contamination, falling rural property prices and adverse human health impacts in areas where this industry has been allowed to prosper.
The headline ‘Ballina electorate CSG free’ is a cheap political stunt that shows the Nationals are more concerned about being re-elected at the forthcoming state election than they are about the long-term impacts of this industry.
Our future should focus on sustainable agriculture, manufacturing, the service industries, renewable energy and tourism.
CSG mining puts rural industries and the future aspirations of our region at risk. A vote for the Nationals in March is a vote for CSG mining in the northern rivers.