Politicians join forces to stop CSG in the Illawarra

Illawarra politicians want coal seam gas exploration stopped in the region’s drinking water catchments.

This week, 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.

Earlier this year the Barry O’Farell government restricted the development of coal seam gas wells within two kilometres of residential areas.

However, local councillors want the government to also ban the exploration in future residential areas in West Dapto as well as in the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment Area, the Mercury reported.

Greens councillor George Takacs went one step further, urging 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.

"We're talking about gas extraction vents in our neighbourhood and in our water collection lands … and we're talking about a substance that no one single human being can do without – clean drinking water."

This week, Kiama MP Gareth Ward also expressed concern over CSG exploration in the region.

"I have serious concerns about CSG extraction from water catchments and believe the NSW government must consider calls from farmers and local government to strengthen regulatory controls," he said.

More than 3000 people turned out to Bulli Showground In October, forming a human sign that read:

‘‘Protect H2O, stop CSG!’’.

CSG is a contentious issue, attracting great public scrutiny in both Wollongong and around the state.

In January, police arrested at least seventeen protesters at Glenugie, south of Grafton as they attempted to block Metgasco equipment from entering a property.

A number of protesters had to be cut loose by the riot squad after they had locked themselves to infrastructure near the property entrance.

While anti mining group Lock the Gate has launching a national campaign calling for immediate law reforms for the mining industry.

The “Call to Country” campaign is calling for an urgent moratorium on coal-seam gas mining and wants to create no-go zones to protect agricultural land, national tourism spots and residential dwellings.

The group also want strict federal laws to ban coal and gas mining from water sources, heritage sites and sensitive environmental areas.

Image: seacliffcloast.com

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