Hundreds of local surfers and water-lovers will paddle out at Clarke’s Beach over the weekend to protest against a massive oil and gas field proposed for the NSW coast.
The locals will stand in solidarity with their southern counterparts in opposing the Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (PEP11) gas field, which would cover 4,500 square kilometres of ocean from Newcastle to Manly.
‘It’s just absurd that this project is being considered on one of the most popular and pristine coastlines in the world,’ surfing legend and former world champion Layne Beachley said.
‘If something goes wrong it will be catastrophic, we need to let the people in power know that we will not accept this and they have to get this out of our backyard,’ she said.
While the permit for the gas field project officially expired in February and has not yet been renewed by Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, the current permit holders – Advent Energy (85 per cent) and Bounty Oil and Gas (15 per cent) – are pressing on with plans to drill.
Advent Energy announced last week plans to increase the depth of their drilling at their Baleen prospect off Catherine Hill Bay from 2150m to 3150m.
‘This proposal has been the best kept secret hiding in plain sight with the majority of NSW residents having no idea this was even a threat,’ Surfrider Foundation Campaign Director, Damien Cole said.
‘These paddle outs have brought attention to this potentially disastrous project and of course people are instantly horrified and vehemently opposed to it when they find out what is being proposed” says Surfrider Foundation Campaign Director, Damien Cole.
Surfrider Foundation’s first three Stop PEP11 paddle-out rallies were held over the last three weekends at Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches, Central Coast’s Terrigal Haven and in Newcastle.
Momentum has been building, with an increasing number of community members attending each week, alongside Ms Beachley, fellow surfing icon Tom Carroll, and internationally acclaimed musicians Ash Grunwald & Lime Cordiale.
‘The fact that a gas field was ever proposed off the most populated coastline in Australia is one thing,’ says Surfrider Foundation Chairman, Sean Doherty.
‘But the fact it is being allowed to proceed despite almost unanimous public opposition is mind blowing. Nobody wants this apart from the gas companies, and Surfrider holds grave concerns the PEP11 permit will be renewed against the wishes of the people of the coast.’
The Byron Bay PEP11 Paddle-Out takes place at 11am Saturday, May 8th, at Clarke’s Beach. The event is run with Covid-safe protocols, and attendees are asked to register via Surfrider Foundation Australia’s website at surfrider.org.au.