Response to Mr. Chris Holstein’s Statement regarding CSG

CSG Controls
The Dec 5th Central Coast Express Advocate carried a small item on page 5 reporting on a statement from Member for Gosford Mr. Chris Holstein (Lib) to the effect that community concerns over CSG mining were completely misplaced. If you missed it, it is reproduced here.

The Gasfield Free Mountain District committee wrote to the editor with a response, however they have exercised their editorial control – as it is their right – and our response has not been printed. Here’s what we have to say in response to Mr. Holstein’s statement:

Member for Gosford Mr. Chris Holstein is absolutely correct in saying that there is no current approval for coal seam gas production anywhere in the Central Coast. In saying so however Mr. Holstein risks being accused of having made a disingenuous statement at worst, or at best as holding a genuine misunderstanding of the community’s widely held and well demonstrated concerns.

The fact is that a Petroleum Exploration License (AGL’s PEL#2) is in place over all of the Central Coast’s water catchment area for Mangrove Dam, the dam itself and basically all the land West of the M1 corridor all the way to the Central Coast’s North Western-most settlement of Bucketty. A Petroleum Exploration License is a precursor to a Petroleum Production License.

AGL’s PEL#2 also extends all the way South to Camden where the company has converted a part of the exploration license to a Petroleum Production License (PPL). Around Camden, against the wishes of a good majority of the local community AGL is now operating over 140 production wells. Some wells are within 200 metres of private property. One at least has already blown and vented gas.

The fact is that an exploration license is but a short step away from production. A PEL licensee must in fact demonstrate active exploration activity within the holding or run the risk of of the license being cancelled by the Office of Coal Seam Gas. Further, there is both financial incentive and a built in assumption within the license terms that fields eventually move to production status. It is also important to realise that the Baird Government is also moving to remove the requirement for Environmental Impact Studies and associated approvals for exploration wells within existing PELs.

Further, the many of us in the community who have heard of the disruption to lives, livelihoods, the local environment and the community that existing coal seam gas mining has brought to nearby Gloucester, Camden, and Tara (Qld) are not convinced that coal seam gas exploration or production is a benign activity. 98.2% of the Mountain Districts residents have stated that they wish no coal seam gas mining anywhere in their districts during a door to door survey conducted this year.

Mr. Holstein joins his Liberal Party colleagues in having been notably absent at two large public meetings held for the local community this year on the issue; a meeting held in June at Kulnura attended by 350 residents, and a meeting held in November at the Central Coast Grammar School attended by over 400 including all four Labor candidates for the Coast, the Green’s candidate for Gosford, and at least one Independent. No Liberal party representatives were present either at the “Leaders Listen” forum held at the Central Coast Leagues Club in September where representatives of the Labor Party, the Greens and the Christian Democrats took turns at answering questions regarding CSG. Mr. Holstein has so far not made himself available to meet with community groups regarding coal seam gas though we look forward to him granting an audience in response to our latest request.

The residents of the Central Coast simply will not accept coal seam gas mining within the area’s water catchment and aquifers. We will not accept the placing at risk of an agricultural industry in the Mountain Districts worth a minimum of $157,000,000 p/a to the region as a result of the CSG industry causing excessive water draw-down, loss of paddocks and fields, and industrialisation of the rural area. Once coal seam gas production begins the community’s voice will have already been long ignored and the Central Coast’s water supplies will be placed under significant risk.

It will take more than a press release by Mr. Holstein simply confirming the obvious – that no CSG production is currently occurring to mollify the community’s concerns. It will take the declaration of no-go zones protecting water catchments, aquifers and existing valuable agricultural areas from coal seam gas mining by our political representatives before the residents of the Central Coast will rest assured that their concerns regarding coal seam gas have been heeded. We look forward to the opportunity to properly engage with our local representatives and candidates for seats on the Central Coast, including Mr. Chris Holstein to discuss this issue.

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Letter to MP for Gosford, Mr. Chris Holstein

Today we wrote to the MP for Gosford Mr. Chris Holstein on behalf of the 98.2% of the residents of the Mountain Districts who have indicated that they wish the area to remain Gasfield Free, outlining our collective concerns regarding CSG mining. We have called upon Mr. Holstein to:

1. Heed the stated desire of the community regarding CSG mining and declare the area’s water catchments and aquifers no-go zones for CSG exploration and mining. We request that both Mr. Holstein as local member and also the NSW Liberal Party at large support the local community in this regard.

2. Meet with members of the Mountain Districts Association to discuss in detail the community’s concerns regarding CSG.

As the letter has been submitted on behalf of the community we feel it is important that a copy of the submission is openly published for your review.

For a copy (PDF) of the letter click Here.

Gasfield Free Mountain Districts campaign wins CEN “Best Community Organisation” award.

All the efforts of everyone involved in the road survey effort, the community meetings and everything else we’ve achieved thus far has been given the nod of approval and appreciation by the Coast Environment Network.

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Gasfield Free Mountain Districts Co-Convenor Simon Perry gratefully accepted the award on behalf of the group at the CEN BAT (Being A Team) awards night on Wednesday the 26th of November.

The award included a $200.00 cheque which has been added to the group’s “fighting fund” that is slowly building in anticipation of costs associated with the commissioning of permanent roadside signs, and also the holding of the community Gasfield Free Declaration (February 28th 2015).

Gasfield Free Mountain Districts submission to the Your Future Central Coast 2031 Discussion Paper

The Gasfield Free Mountain Districts Committee recently provided a submission to the NSW Planning department’s discussion paper Your Future Central Coast 2031. Our submission focused on the question of the suitability of the CSG industry to the local area, and called upon the Department’s strategy for the District to include the declaration of the water catchments and aquifers as “no-go zones” for CSG.

Our declaration in full can be found here: CSG Submission for YFCC 2031

The next stage in the Department’s planning process is to develop a draft Regional Growth and Infrastructure Plan (RGIP), based upon both the contents of the initial Discussion Paper as well as the contents of all the various community submissions submitted in this round of consultation.

We expect from our submission to be provided the opportunity to further communicate the community’s views regarding CSG to the Department’s staff when the draft RGIP document is formulated and published.

The draft RGIP is due in about six months time.

400 Central Coast residents raise their hand in support of keeping CSG and coal mining off the Mountain

hands up for CSG free Central Coast

400 Central Coast residents packed out the Central Coast Grammar School hall on Thursday night (27/11) to learn about the risks posed by coal seam gas and coal mining to drinking water, local industries, nature and human health.

Gasfield Free Mountain Districts Co-convenor Simon Perry asked for a show of hands from the audience in support of the residents of the Mountain Districts and the community’s overwhelming desire to remain Gasfield Free. The result was a near unanimous raising of arms across the audience.

Local Anglican Church leader Father Rod Bower and Australian Actor Michael Caton kicked off a rousing program of speakers that included Kulnura local and expert on the aquifers Andrew Shirley and Julie Lyford (Chair – Groundswell Gloucester). Dayne Pratzky, feature of the soon to be released film Frackman described how he has been driven off his Tara property by CSG mining, and Jilliby local Alexia Martinez spoke on her concerns over coal mining.

The Central Coast is at the frontline of coal seam gas and coal mining issues with much of the Mountains District and drinking water catchment for the Central Coast is overlaid by AGL’s coal seam gas exploration license.

Speakers called on candidates from all political parties to take heed of the demands of local residents that the area be permanently protected from coal seam gas mining.

98.2% of Mountain Districts residents say “No to Coal Seam Gas”

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Our survey results are in and the population of the Mountain Districts have overwhelmingly rejected the idea of CSG, calling for the water catchment, aquifer, farm land and the general local environment to remain Gasfield Free.

The MDA CSG campaign divided the area to be surveyed into three Local Government Areas. These are Cessnock, Gosford and Wyong. Cessnock includes Bucketty, Murray’s Run, Will-O-Wyn, Laguna and Murray’s Run. Gosford includes Mangrove Mountain, Central Mangrove, Lower Mangrove, Peats Ridge, Spencer, Gunderman, Mills Creek and Kulnura (in part). Wyong includes the suburb of Kulnura (in part).

Surveying began with Iron Bark Road, Mangrove Mountain in June 2014 and to date (October 29 2014) has completed most designated roads and properties. The following table details the number of individuals surveyed in each of the LGAs and the number and percentages of votes in each category (Yes to Gasfield free, Unsure and No). The mean for the three LGAs was 98.2% in favour of gasfield free in their areas, with 1221 individuals responding.

Congratulations to the survey teams for covering such a large area and making the commitment to cover as many individuals as possible.

Areas originally to be surveyed and the original estimates of the number of mailboxes were Calga (18), Central Mangrove (88), Glenworth Valley (5), Kulnura (198), Mangrove Creek (8), Mangrove Mountain (196), Peats Ridge (90), Spencer (178), Lower Mangrove (45) and Bucketty/Murrays Run (210).

Table 1. Survey results in LGAs of Gosford, Wyong and Cessnock for gasfield-free preferences.

LGA Area Coordinators # individuals responding Yes

%

Unsure

%

No

%

Cessnock Stu Wonson/Jason Gibbs 207 200

96.6%

3

1.4%

4

2%

Wyong Mick Gow 313 309

98.7%

0 4

1.3%

Gosford Poppe Zouridis/Lorraine Hawdon 701 690

98.4%

3

0.4%

8

1.1%

Total   1221 1199 6 16