Pillar Valley’s Lock the Gate working group is determined to prevent coal-seam gas mining in the Clarence Valley.
Pillar Valley’s Lock the Gate working group is determined to prevent coal-seam gas mining in the Clarence Valley. Contributed

Fight against coal seam gas mining

PILLAR Valley community members have formed a Lock the Gate committee following information received that Pillar Valley, Tucabia and Tyndale are all targets for coal-seam gas mining.

The newly formed group at a meeting last week noted community concerns, including the disregard of scientific proof that unconventional gas mining causes irreversible damage by contaminating and exhausting water supplies, the extreme risks to public health, land and air contamination, the lack of consideration for the well-being of current and future generations, rights of ownership of land and agriculture, and threats to the local and regional environments.

Metgasco Ltd holds an exploration lease over the Clarence Valley and has nominated the coastal area and plains adjacent to Yuraygir National Park and Solitary Island Marine Park as a target for gas mining.

More than 100 Pillar Valley residents attended recent information forums in their area and strong support is coming in from nearby towns and villages.

Residents at last Wednesday night's meeting pledged support for friends and neighbours in protecting Pillar Valley, Tucabia and the Yuraygir coastline from industrial gas mining.

The community is unhappy with government decisions favouring international mining corporations over expressed concerns of Australian citizens.

The NSW Government has broken its promise to have strong controls on gas mining in the exploration stage.

The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Aquifer Policy released last week ignores legitimate public concerns.

Pillar Valley resident Narelle Nagle said she is "alarmed at the risks to our personal and community safety from gas pipes and flares installed on gas rigs burning off waste methane, hydrogen sulphides and other toxins".

"These gases are highly flammable and it'll be a nightmare for us in hot and dry seasons," Ms Nagle said.

In some instances waste gases are released without flaring.

The uncombusted methane releases are 25-105 times more potent than if the methane is combusted.

Moist air catching the gas, hydrogen sulphide, heavy metals and other toxins that are heavier than air then settle on everything we own, including the kids' sandpit, our rooftops and the school bus stop. This stuff can be deadly after a short period of time and highlights the need for thorough investigations before the gas industry is allowed to commence any operations.

"The Coldstream River, these valleys and floodplains, are home to a huge variety of wildlife, including a large number of threatened and endangered species," Ms Nagle said.

"The Pillar Valley and Tucabia area is well loved by local residents and holidaymakers and contains prime agricultural land, good timber and bushland, and borders with Yuraygir National Park.

"This government-sanctioned industry will impact heavily on our organic farms and gardens, reduce land values and resale opportunities."

Pillar Valley Lock the Gate community members shared concerns for their neighbours and other groups in the region with aims to demand a halt to the industrial growth and unregulated operations of unconventional gas mining.

We support Clarence Valley Alliance Against Coal Seam Gas and Valley Watch.

"We demand balance, fairness and the reaffirmation of our rights."

Yuraygir Coast Protection Group representatives expressed their concerns that Metgasco are currently seeking locations for LGN facilities off the coast to export produced gas to Asia.

Our communities are seeking a moratorium on gas mining to ensure thorough baseline testing is carried out and to address valid community concerns of unconventional gas mining and associated industry practices known to have severe social and environmental consequences.

Minnie Water and Wooli residents are meeting next week to discuss risks to Lake Minnie Water and Hiawatha, town water supplies provided by underground aquifers.

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