Friday, 3 April 2015

When the NSW gas industry comes to visit: "They say ignorance is bliss and little did I know that life as I knew it was about to change forever"

How it starts – with a knock at the door.

Excerpt from 2011 submission, by northern NSW beef cattle and mixed broad acre farmers Brenden Smith and Angie Smith to the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry Into Coal Seam Gas:

Our farms are situated in PEL 470 and we were approached by a representative from Planet Gas to put an exploration well on one of our properties. We were told it was only one well and it was nothing to worry about.  After further investigations, we found out it was going to be a series of wells with a pumping station on a neighbouring farm to join to a pipeline to take the gas to a major pipeline connecting to Gladstone in the North and Wellington and Newcastle in the south.  It seems all this had been arranged without notifying landholders or local councils. How can this be allowed to happen?  

What one community did about it.

Excerpt from a guest post in 1 Million Women by Angie Smith:

Prior to 2010 I didn't even know what coal seam gas was or that it was embedded in the coal seams deep under our farm. I had no idea what a Petroleum Exploration Licence was let alone that there was one covering our district called PEL470. Hydraulic fracturing was another language.

They say ignorance is bliss and little did I know that life as I knew it was about to change forever.

After a visit from a representative from Planet Gas seeking permission to drill a core hole on our land life went into overdrive. Being a fourth generation farmer I descend from a long line of agriculturalists. My husband is a successful, passionate farmer and our three children, although at university and school, are heavily involved with the running of our family farm. The land is not only in our blood but our hearts as well. Mining companies and governments thought they could establish a gas industry in some of the richest farming land in Australia. They didn't bank on the power of people.

Life became very different from the usual day to day running of the farm and family. Night reading became Petroleum Onshore Act 1991 and NSW Government Draft Strategic Regional Land use Plan. Neighbours were alerted and meetings were planned and email lists collated. Meetings with local, state and federal MP's were attended. Days spent at the legislative Council Inquiries. Letters were written.
Politicians from all parties came to our home to discuss CSG. The phone rang constantly. Involvement on an advisory committee enabled travel to Emerald, Springsure, Toowoomba, Chinchilla, Dalby, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Brisbane to meet with others farmers to learn from their experiences and realise that coexistence is not possible. Legal advice was sought. Lobbying of politicians became a daily occurrence. Meetings with the Chief Scientist and various other influential people became the norm. Every landowner in PEL470 was united and signed an objection to the licence renewal of PEL470.

On 14th October 2014 the Minister for Resources and Energy cancelled our licence.

People power had triumphed…..

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