CSG blockade asks for the council’s help


Wollongong City Council’s opposition to CSG will be tested tonight when Greens councillor Jill Merrin will ask it to support a blockade if exploration drilling is approved.

In a notice of motion at tonight’s meeting, the Greens councillor will propose the council provide support to protesters wanting to blockade Apex Energy’s drilling program.

Merrin wants the council to provide portable toilets, rubbish facilities and shade structures, and will also ask the council to write a letter to the NSW Government stating their support of any blockade, the Illawarra Mercury reported.

Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore will speak at the meeting to urge other councillors to support Merrin's motion.

She said the move would be a "natural extension" of the council's already strong support for banning CSG mining in the Illawarra's water catchment area.

"The council so far has said they support a ban on CSG exploration in the catchment, but this is still a big proposal," Moore said.

"Essentially we are asking the council to support us to do something which is necessary but illegal and that is a huge request.

"But that's the reality we face – do something illegal or risk the drinking water supply of four and a half million people."

Last month Wollongong councillors stepped up a campaign to send a strong message to the NSW Department of Planning an Infrastructure that they do not want CSG exploration to go ahead in the region.

Greens councillor George Takacs urged the council to demand the government prohibit any new coal, oil and gas exploration permits amid growing environmental concerns.

"The whole debate about coal seam gas completely misses the bloody point – we are talking about the security of our water and agriculture [but] our agriculture had no security in a planet that warms by another four degrees," he said.

"There's only one course of action if we're serious, and that is to not issue any further exploration permits."

Liberal councillor Leigh Colacino's said he was also opposed to CSG exploration near drinking water catchments.

"I think the idea of extraction from within the Wollongong catchment areas is an abhorrent thought," he said.

Moore said her group were prepared to blockade any drilling operations.

She said there are 16 well sites, and "we have had to find the access points for all 16 – some of which have multiple possible access points."

"We need to know logistically how we would blockade any particular access points and we also would need to know we have toilets and the ability to cook food for people – all of the things that would go along with people essentially camping in an area to staff a 24-hour blockade," she said.

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