CSG opponents target Barry O’Farrell’s electorate

Stop CSG Illawarra has taken its fight to Barry O’Farrell’s electorate, telling residents gathered at St Ives Community Hall that drilling in Sydney’s drinking water catchment should be banned.

Around 200 community members attended the public meeting where Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore spoke of the dangers of CSG mining in water catchment areas.

Moore said the meeting was held in O’Farrell’s electorate to ensure the issue was kept in the public spotlight, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

"I think CSG drilling has snuck through and the vast majority of people don't know what it is," Moore said.

"The government didn't tell them, the mining companies didn't tell them so it's been up to the community campaigners – we want this issue to be present for Sydney residents and for them to really get behind it."

O'Farrell was invited to attend Sunday's meeting but did not respond.

Moore said her group would continue to put pressure on the government to ban CSG drilling in the catchment, adding that an upcoming parliamentary debate should centre around legislative change.

The group recently walked into the NSW parliament and handed over a 13,000 strong petition calling for a state-wide ban on all CSG drilling in water catchment areas.

"We want the 2 per cent of land in NSW that supplies the drinking water of 60 per cent of people protected," Moore said at the time.

In July Apex Energy were denied permission to drill 16 exploration wells within Illawarra water catchment areas.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) rejected the proposed drilling program, stating that more conclusive studies on the impact of CSG activities to drinking water were needed.

“It appears that the potential risks of coal seam gas activities are still being established and that there is some uncertainty regarding the potential impacts of the suite of coal seam gas extraction techniques which could be applied within various geological formations,” PAC said at the time.

“..a finding that Coal Seam Gas Operations may have fewer groundwater and subsidence impacts is not accepted as a reason to support the proposal.”

In an initial independent report on NSW coal seam gas activities released in July, Professor Mary O'Kane confirms there are wide-ranging community concerns about CSG and suggests tougher regulation, increased penalties for breaches and more environmental research be conducted.

"CSG is a complex issue which has proven divisive chiefly because of the emotive nature of community concerns, the competing interests of the players, and a lack of publicly-available factual information," O'Kane said.  

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