Community Meeting – Kulnura Hall on June 19th

Planning is well underway for a community meeting for all residents of Mangrove Mountain, Lower Mangrove, Mangrove Creek and surrounding areas, Kulnura, Bucketty, and Murrays Run so that all may learn how they are threatened by Coal Seam Gas mining. All residents are strongly encouraged to attend the June 19th meeting, which will commence at 7pm at the historic Kulnura Community Hall.

Almost the entire Mountain community is covered within AGL’s Petroleum Exploration License #2 (PEL2), which also extends South West to include Camden where the gas company currently has over 40 active gas wells. At present, only Somersby and Mt. White remain outside of AGL’s PEL. Gas mining in the local area is specifically referenced in the NSW Governments 2013 Planning Department’s Discussion Paper for the Lower Hunter. This document states “it is possible that coal seam gas production could commence within the next two years (in Wollombi, Grumps Retreat, Bucketty and Peats Ridge)”.

The Coal Seam Gas Subcommittee of the Mountain Districts Association has commenced surveying residents so that all may voice their opinion on whether coal seam gas industry activity is compatible with the current farming, bushland and crucial water aquifers we all rely upon across the mountain districts.

Volunteers have already completed a survey of residents of Ironbark Road Mangrove Mountain, finding that over 95% of respondents were passionately against coal seam gas mining in the area. Respondents voiced concerns with the potential reduction in the height and contamination, of the aquifer, lowered land values, and the disruption caused by the heavy machinery associated with gas drilling and mining. Other major concerns are the storage of huge quantities of salty wastewater from the extraction process, which can also contain toxic and radioactive compounds and heavy metals.

The surveying of residents, as well as the planned Community Meeting follows the model of community engagement being undertaken in the NSW Northern Rivers region. In recent weeks the passionate defence of the Northern Rivers region by local residents has been cited as a prime reason for the referral of the Petroleum Exploration Licence held over those communities to ICAC for investigation.

Preliminary letterbox counts of the Mountain District have found that up to 1350 properties will need to surveyed in order to allow all residents to have their say. Precinct Captains, who will act as local organisers of survey volunteers, are currently being recruited in all affected districts. Please email or phone 43741175 or 0411136145 if you are able to volunteer a half-day or so in the coming months to help survey your local area. All residents, especially those able to volunteer some time, should attend on the night of the Community Meeting.

Residents and visitors to the Mountain will have already seen information signs recently erected on roadsides all around the Mountain, designed to remind everyone of the impending meeting. Attendees of the June 19th meeting will hear how the MDA’s Coal Seam Gas subcommittee will organise and conduct the completion of the community survey over the following months.

Simon Perry, on behalf of the Coal Seam Gas subcommittee of the Mountain Districts Association.