Property Observer November 25, 2011:
Carmelite nuns have little faith in AGL Energy maintaining the rural tranquillity of Scenic Hills.
The Catholic religious order is concerned the “supportive environment for prayer would be lost with the noise of construction and operation of gas wells nearby and heavy vehicle traffic on local roads”.
“AGL plans to locate up to six gas wells on the Serbian Orthodox property next door to us,” writes Sister Jocelyn Kramer.
The nuns settled in the region more than 20 years ago after the region was made an environmental protection (scenic) zone in 1974. The zoning specifically prohibits extractive industries and mines.
“In contravention of the zoning, AGL Energy Ltd (AGL) has applied to the NSW Minister for Planning to put up to 72 coal seam gas (CSG) wells across Campbelltown's Scenic Hills from Mount Annan to Denham Court,” she wrote.
The nuns are concerned about damage to historic area. They raise its important Aboriginal history and its “rich colonialist heritage”.
They are also concerned about damage to Upper Canal, part of Sydney’s water catchment area, and possible damage to Mount Annan Botanic Garden’s plants and animals.
“The sheer audacity of this proposal epitomises the problem residents have with AGL's plans for the Scenic Hills.”
“If the NSW Minister for Planning approves AGL's proposal for CSG mining in the Scenic Hills, much of its beauty and tranquillity will be lost forever.”
The group asks that no new licenses are approved until there has been extensive research on the impact of coal seam gas and associated practises and that research has been made publicly available.
“As a religious community, we recognise that economic development is necessary and we welcome research and development into renewable energy sources,” Kramer writes……
The Order of Discalced Carmelites, which includes these nuns, made a Submission to the Upper House Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas in September this year which stated:
For us Carmelites, a small and poor religious community our present situation is that our needs and hopes have not been heard. It feels like we are collateral damage. Our very viability and the viability of this heritage landscape is threatened by a 'blue chip' company determined to exploit the resources under our land. We do not have the resources to mount an advertising campaign as AGL has done in recent days. Our appeal to this committee of the Legislative Council is for justice. There are many things more important than money- among them there is a sacred land where people come for healing and refreshment, a connection with nature, our Aboriginal heritage and the colonial history of our state.
Will the O'Farrell Government heed this plea from the heart or will Big Business prevail?