Coffee drunk, cake eaten and the CSG industry unravelled

SP+JL+AS+JELast night’s community meeting to delve into the more technical aspects of CSG mining and the specific impact to the Mountain Districts aquifers explored a range of sobering areas. Kulnura local and Geotechnical Forensic expert Andrew Shirley spoke at depth on the risks posed to our aquifers by CSG mining. Julie Lyford, former Mayor of Gloucester nor full time activist and Chair of Groundswell Gloucester took time from her busy schedule to share with us a glimpse of the hard battle Gloucester residents are engaged in with AGL to stop the town and rich farming industry being decimated by CSG mining.

Everyone also enjoyed a fantastic spread of cakes provided by the Gasfield Free Mountain committee.

Pictured above (from left to right) Simon Perry (Co-convenor Gasfield Free Mountain Districts), Julie Lyford, Andrew Shirley, John Edye (Co-convenor Gasfield Free Mountain Districts).

We’d again like to thank Julie and Andrew for their fantastic presentations and generosity in spending time to share their knowledge. A very thought-provoking session.

A detailed report will be posted soon.


Save the water trigger for CSG mining

It seems there is a high likelihood that the Senate will next week vote down the water trigger on large scale coal and gas projects, which was only just introduced last year.  Below is a sign on statement that we are urgently seeking people and groups to add their names to, if they want to save the water trigger. 

Please copy and paste the text between “-start-” and “-end-“, specify the appropriate information if you are a farmer or represent a community group, customise your name at the bottom, and send the following information by email to if you want to make a difference and try to ensure that impacts to the water table are considered when CSG mining approvals are being considered. To be clear, the couple of places where you need to customise your repose are highlighted in BOLD RED. Carmel Flint is  Campaign Co-ordinator, Lock the Gate Alliance.

Farmers – Name, property name, locality, state
Group – Person representing, group name, locality, state

To all members of the Australian Senate,

Water is integral to farming, food security, Indigenous life and culture, our communities and Australia’s economy. It is too important to leave to state and territory governments and their vested interests, which have been especially highlighted through the recent NSW ICAC investigations into political corruption.

All political parties voted for the water trigger to be added to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act so the Federal Government could assess impacts of mining developments on our precious groundwater, yet the Abbott Government now proposes to hand these powers to the states and territories.

Decisions over groundwater are too important to hand to individual states, and water knows no boundaries. A decision on groundwater in one state will affect neighbouring states. The Great Artesian Basin alone covers three states, NSW, Queensland and South Australia, as well as the Northern Territory. Gas companies want to puncture this essential water resource for inland Australia with hundreds of wells.

We implore all senators to vote against the Abbott Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014, which will hand groundwater assessment powers to states and territories.

The National Party will be voting against the farmers’ interests if they vote for the bill. The Palmer United Party and Senator Ricky Muir have shown they will stand up for the community and now they have the opportunity to show they support farmers and indigenous communities across Australia and vote down the bill”.

Yours Sincerely: ADD-YOUR-NAME-HERE

– end –

Scrapping or diluting the Renewable Energy Target hands gas and coal $10B

Research shows power bills would not go down, but the coal and gas industry would reap a huge windfall should the Renewable Energy Target be scrapped, as is proposed by the Abbot government and their top business advisors.

As reported in the Guardian newspaper “Coal and gas generators will reap $10bn in extra profits over the next 15 years if the Abbott government pares back the renewable energy target (RET), and the nation’s electricity bills will not fall, according to new research.

Coal and gas generators have been among the most vocal supporters of reducing the RET, which requires 41,000 gigawatt hours of power to be sourced from renewables by 2020, but the research by Jacobs found reducing the target would also be in those companies’ interest.”

Read the full article here.

SMH: Secret AGL political donations while seeking CSG approval

Peter Hannam

Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

“Energy giant supplier AGL gave almost $100,000 to the NSW Labor and Liberal parties while seeking approval to drill 110 coal seam gas wells near Gloucester on the mid-north coast, but only half of those donations were apparently disclosed to the Planning Department making the decision.”

CSG mining and the need for due diligence when purchasing property

Much as been said about the downward pressure CSG mining has on property values. Of course the CSG industry will say “bumf and nonsense” to such statements. Michael Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of AGL is due to retire next year, and he is perhaps feathering his retirement portfolio with a swag of properties the value of which have been enhanced through the installation of a few gas wells, flares, and compressors, a garden feature incorporating a waste-water evaporation pond, a pimp-my-truck styled drill-rig parked in the drive.

Meanwhile, in the real world…

Curtis Associates is, in their own words “(A)n independent and licensed buyers’ agent located in the Sydney CBD which acts exclusively for buyers of residential and commercial properties whether to occupy, develop or as an investment. We are specialist and full time buyers agents free from the distractions of other business activities such as property management and finance brokering. Buying property is simply all we do and we do it well.” Curtis Associates “act as exclusive buyers agent in Sydney and as such, never acts on behalf of sellers of real estate.”

That last piece is very important in understanding what Curtis Assoc. has to say about CSG – because they never represent sellers of real estate they have no self-serving interest in downplaying any depreciative characteristics of CSG mining on property values. Curtis Assoc. charges their clients “a fixed amount in your price bracket and does not increase with every increase in the purchase price.”

Curtis Associates has this to say about Coal Seam Gas mining and property values:


“For those looking to buy a house in Sydney or an investment property in Sydney, the issue of CSG mining is a further and increasingly high profile example of the regulatory and environmental risks which can be encountered in the Sydney’s ever changing property market.

Nature of the issue

The issue has both public and private elements.

The public element is now well documented and centres around various environmental, health and safety risks associated with CSG mining especially to aquifers supplying water into the food chain and where the “fracking” extraction method is used.
The private element is of particular interest to existing and prospective property buyers. It centres around the law and other guidelines under which a party becomes entitled to explore for and extract CSG.


Curtis Associates go on to warn that it is difficult for a buyer to know whether a prospective property is subject to a CSG Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) and further that there is currently no law forcing sellers to warn a buyer of PEL coverage. They point to the Minview website as a resource people can use to see the gross coverage of the variously issued PELs across NSW, as do we.

Curtis Associates go on to warn:


“(W)hile development consent from a local council or authority may be required before a petroleum title can be granted, property specific searches of such a council or authority will not reveal petroleum titles over other land on which CSG mining might be conducted and which might have subterranean or other environmental effects on the land being searched.

Whilst it is possible to navigate through a series of steps on the DPI website to download an updated list of petroleum titles and applications, the particular difficulty with this type of property risk is that even if pre purchase due diligence uncovers a petroleum title affecting a property of interest, because of the exploratory element inherent in CSG mining and environmental effects that may be unknown (and in contrast for example, to a development consent for a new building), it is difficult to ascertain the future nature and extent of that risk.


We’ve heard it said by property sellers and those representing them that A). CSG won’t come here and anyway if it did my land values would not be downgraded, if anything the fact that I’m getting a royalty for a gaswell on my land is only a good thing. More income means higher values; and B). All this community noise about CSG, the signs along the road about CSG meetings and the articles in the local press are putting off potential buyers.

Clearly Curtis Associates has a lot to say about the validity of point “A”. The best way to retain the value of our land investments is for the community to collectively Lock Our Gates against the gas companies and Say No To CSG.

As to the second point; blaming the presence of signs such as LTG Yellow Triangles and those erected to advise the community about CSG meetings for downward pressure on property values is a case of shooting the messenger. It is like a seller of water blaming the inventor of the microscope for the drop in the value of a glass of water when the microscope finds the water to be teeming with disease causing microbes. The facts of the matter are; we’re covered by AGL’s PELs and that fact, combined with the real possibility that mining could commence have the potential to exert a downward pressure on land values.

Should mining commence, we will almost certainly find our land values decreasing to a significant degree.

The visible presence of community resistance to CSG mining, such as signs, is if anything a fantastic boon for our community and sends a strong message to potential buyers that they are looking at property within a community that has both a backbone and sense of community co-operation toward the common good. The surveys of all the residents of the Mountain Districts are almost complete and collation of the data has begun; we’re on track to declaring Coal Seam Gas unwelcome and unwanted.

PS. Don’t miss the Coffee, Cake and CSG session on the 23rd if you want to understand what happens underground when CSG mining occurs.

AGL’s free reign a boon for NSW? Don’t believe it.

According to a recent article in the Daily Telegraph “THE pressure on the government to unlock the state’s coal seam gas reserves has intensified after a new report revealed the industry could deliver 16,000 jobs by 2035 and drive down the wholesale gas price by up to 12 per cent.”

The Telegraph’s article is based on a report by the Australian business analyst group ACIL Allen, a company that has a track record of producing industry sponsored reports that conclude that the Coal Seam Gas industry needs to be given a clear road ahead to just get on with saving the NSW state economy.

In 2011 ACIL Allen published a report in conjunction with Santos that projected 2900 new full time jobs and over $15B added to the NSW State’s bottom line.

In 2013 ACIL Allen published another report, this time for APPEA (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association) which also concluded that NSW residents would see jobs and cash aplenty, if only all those pesky regulations holding back Coal Seam Gas drilling were removed.

This time round it is AGL, and again the conclusion is that – silly us – we just don’t understand what is good for us and we all ought to get out of AGL’s and indeed the entire CSG Industry’s way and allow them to drill everywhere. The only problem that ACIL Allen finds is that the populist NSW Government has reduced the opportunities for the CSG Industry by unnecessarily imposing things like 2km buffer zones around residential areas.

The pressure is not on the government to unlock the state’s coal seam gas fields, it is really on companies like AGL and Santos to take into consideration the collective will of the communities they target, from Gloucester to the NSW Northern Rivers, and through the Mountain Districts.

ACIL Allen’s executive staff have decades of Gas/Petro company experience. Whilst they are no doubt following a rigid analytical and reporting protocol in the formulation of their reports it is clear that they give only lip service at best to the concerns residents have over CSG’s impact to the environment. On Page 4 of the current report they say this in a footnote: “Analysis of any non-market impacts (such as the loss of biodiversity, changes in air quality, social justice implications, etc.) may also be relevant in assessing the full implications of a project or policy.”

Well…that’s that covered off then…

Deloitte Report finds CSG for export is a huge drag on the Australian economy


Deloitte’s “Gas Market Transformations – Manufacturing Impacts Report” (July 14 2014) concludes that the price increases for gas that will result from CSG being exported for sale in Asia will have a net negative impact on the Australian economy, and specifically businesses in NSW.

While the gas industry will enjoy an $11B boost, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and other industries will suffer a cumulative $32B drag. NSW is forecast to therefore see a negative economic impact of $21B, along with a share of the 12,000-14,000 projected job losses  that the manufacturing sector will suffer Australia wide. The Coal Seam Gas mining industry is an insignificant employer and will go nowhere near making up for the employment losses felt elsewhere, throughout the country.

At a time when the Australian manufacturing industry is already suffering from the withdrawal of major players including Ford and Holden such hits are very unwelcome news.

NSW Greens Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham summed it up very nicely; “It is unfair that businesses and workers in the manufacturing industry and agriculture should have to suffer so companies such as PetroChina, Petronas (Malaysia), Kogas (Korea), British Gas, Shell (Netherlands), Total (France), ConocoPhillips (USA), Sinopec (China), Santos, and Origin can make large profits through their export LNG consortiums.”