Rally planned to stop Narrabri coal seam gas project

Rally planned to stop Narrabri coal seam gas project

Protesters are gearing up to stage a rally against the Narrabri coal seam gas (CSG) project, scheduled to take place outside NSW Parliament on Thursday 14 September.

The rally is a joint initiative organised by five groups: NSW Farmers, the Gomeroi people, the CWA, Unions NSW, and the Lock the Gate Alliance. It is a response to the government’s indication of its intent to renew coal seam gas exploration licences, encompassing over a million hectares of land stretching from the fertile Liverpool Plains to the expansive Namoi floodplain.

A staggering 400,000 hectares of the targeted land area has been classified by the government as ‘biophysical strategic agricultural land’, constituting a quarter of the strategic agricultural expanse in the New England North West region.

The affected area stretches from the Liverpool Plains (pictured) all the way to the Namoi floodplain.

The potential ramifications of the CSG project has elicited significant concerns; should the scale of the proposed Narrabri gas project be mirrored across this vast territory, experts estimate the deployment of over 10,000 additional coal seam gas wells. Such expansion could result in the extraction of a staggering 449 million litres of groundwater, threatening the delicate water balance.

According to rally organisers, equally unsettling is the environmental toll that this venture might exact. Replicating the projected salt waste output of the Narrabri gas project could give rise to a staggering 10 million tonnes of solid salt waste, posing a potential ecological hazard.

Studies show the greenhouse gas emissions anticipated from the project could escalate by an additional 1.5 billion tonnes over 25 years if spread across another million hectares – a figure equivalent to three times Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

Liverpool Plains landholder, Margaret Fleck has voiced her frustration with the previous NSW government’s lack of responsiveness to the concerns of the region’s people.

“It’s been 11 years since the last rally. There has been a lot of broken promises, we want land and water protected so we can grow food and fibre, we need to do something about climate change and protect the environment,” Ms Fleck says.

“Community resolve has strengthened and we are seeing more groups in society wishing to join in the rally from Lock the Gate [Alliance] to the CWA. We need more people to show the level of opposition to the Narrabri gas project in the Pilliga.”

Fellow Liverpool Plains landholder Rosemary Nankivell says the previous State government failed to act in any way for the protection of the Liverpool Plains.

“It’s not just broken promises but backflips on policy,” she says. “John Barilaro announced in 2021 that the Liverpool Plains would be protected from mining and less than six weeks later, announced that petroleum exploration licences (PELs) covering the Liverpool Plains would now be opening up for CSG.

“The project raises multiple issues of great concern, such as the contamination and depletion of water. Apart from being a deeply unpopular project, it is time the NSW government actually listened to the people. It is a terrible project with so many issues that are fundamentally wrong.”

Narrabri underground mine
The existing Narrabri underground coal mine has already made its mark on the landscape.

Ms Nankivell says there has not been a government willing to do anything as they continue to approve coal seam gas projects.

“I believe people voted in a new Federal government because they thought they might act on climate change,” she says. “Farmers are at the front line of all this and we’re having weird seasons that are difficult to handle. On the Liverpool Plains we’re blessed with such good country, but there’s been massive hailstorms, fires and floods all over the world.  Climate change is real and it’s happening, and the government needs to man up.”

The Rally: Stop Coal Seam Gas – protect land, water, culture and climate is set to begin at 11:30am on Thursday 14 September, 2023. There will be a march from Customs House, Circular Quay over to NSW Parliament on Macquarie Street in Sydney.

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