Story and photos Eve Jeffery
Tina and Ed Robinson moved to Gloucester on the mid north coast about 20 years ago in the hope of living a lovely riparian life as beef farmers.
They didn’t ever imagine they would become activists travelling the country pleading with all they meet to help them stand up to a company called AGL which wants to frack the region for coal-seam gas (CSG).
Tina and Ed were featured speakers at a packed house for last Friday’s ‘What The Frack Happened At Gloucester?’ event in Mullumbimby.
They were joined by campaigners from Lock the Gate and GetUp!
Last week mining giant AGL announced it would sell back three of its CSG licences to the NSW government, and that it would write-down $193 milllion in the value of its Gloucester gas project.
The further delay to the company’s final investment decision for CSG at Gloucester was welcomed by communities no longer under active licences.
But campaigners say that for the people of Gloucester, it’s not over yet as they are still living with the daily reality of pilot production wells on their doorstep and ongoing uncertainty about the future of the project that could ruin their valley.
Mr Robinson said northern rivers locals had been ‘a great support to us’.
‘Our community is very small and we are up against a large company,’ Mr Robinson said.
‘We’re in a difficult situation; the rules the government has put in place for everywhere else in NSW don’t apply to us because the Waukivory gas project was already underway when they made them,’ he said.
‘If this project goes ahead in our valley, people in our community may have to live with wells only 200 metres from their homes,’ he said.
Elly Bird, regional coordinator for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, said another speaker, Dan Robbins, has been working with communities in Camden, where AGL operate the largest producing gasfield in NSW.
‘Dan has been documenting a worrying pattern of health symptoms; some people there are living only 45 metres from gas wells,’ Ms Bird said.
‘Our fight isn’t over yet and there’s plenty people can do to help,’ she said.
‘There are some really simple things people can do that can make a difference, including switching their power away from power companies, like AGL, that invest in CSG.’