See you on the 28th!

Our community Gasfield Free Declaration is just around the corner on February 28th. For full event details please see our facebook page.

We’ll be kicking off at 4pm, with music, food, a few short (very few, very short) speeches, more food, more music, and all wrapping up at 9pm.

There’ll be parking available on Neills Park, next to Kulnura Memorial Hall. For anyone coming from out of town you’re heading for the “Corner George Downes Drive and Greta Road”.

See you there!


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 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.

Coal Seam Gas is “a significant environmental issue”

Not us saying that, but rather NSW Environment Protection Agency CEO Barry Buffier.

In statements made to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the performance of the EPA Mr Buffier was challenged as to whether the the agency was spending too much time investigation the CSG industry when (according to Upper House Liberal MP Mr. Scot MacDonald) “the impact on the environment (of the CSG industry) by all accounts is very, very, very small”.

Mr Buffier stated that “my assessment is that yes (coal seam gas is a significant environmental issue). The evidence would indicate that it’s what happens with the produced water and the impact on the aquifers, which is likely to be an area where environmentally things could go wrong”

Read the report in the SMH here:

..or see page 5 if you’re reading the paper today the good old tactile way.

Leaders Listen forum

On the evening of Wednesday the 24th of September a Q&A session was hosted at The Central Coast Leagues Club (Gosford) titled “Leaders Listen“. Organised by the Central Coast Union Alliance the event was billed as an opportunity to ask questions of Mike Baird (NSW Liberal Premier), John Robertson (NSW Labor Leader), Dr. John Kaye (NSW Greens Party), Rev. Fred Nile (Christian Democratic Party), and Robert Borsak MLC – Shooters and Fishers Party NSW.

As it turned out here is who turned up to Listen to their constituents. Clockwise from top left we have An Empty Chair representing the Liberal Party (seems they had no Leader who wanted to Listen); John Robertson – NSW Labor Leader; Christian Democrats candidate for Newcastle Milton Caine (standing in for the Rev. Fred Nile); and Dr John Kaye – MLC for the Greens Party for the Central Coast.

The representative of the Shooters and Fishers party was also absent as he was apparently busy looking at a map of national parks, planning his next weekend away.

We were lucky enough to be picked to ask a question, which unfortunately we did not capture a recording of me asking. Our question was:

“My name is Simon Perry. Together with my friend and colleague John Edye I am co-convenor of a community group that represents all the residents of the Central Coast Mountain Districts and their concerns toward Coal Seam Gas mining. The Mountain Districts are within AGL’s PEL2. The Mountain Districts contain an aquifer tht supplies 50% of the water for the coast, and supports all of the area’s farming industry. We have advice that the aquifer would be placed at serious risk by Coal Seam Gas mining. The coast communities have been exempted from CSG, the Mountain Districts have not. My question is; what personal commitment will you give and what commitment will your party give to permanently protect the Central Coast Mountain Districts, and other communities like ours all across NSW from Coal Seam Gas mining?

This video (approx. 8 minute runtime) shows their respective responses.
– John Robertson’s response is first – after the question displays (skip 60 seconds in if you wish to get to the response)
– John Kayes is at about 2:55 mark
– Milton Caine starts at about 5:35.
– The Liberal Party’s empty chair didn’t have anything to say.


Information night in Gosford at The Rhythm Hut – October 2nd

Come along to an evening of information, film and discussion about the threat of coal and gas mining on the Central Coast – organised by our partners at the Coast Environment Network / Our Land, Our Water, Our Future, and hosted by The Rhythm Hut.

• Meet representatives of local groups who are fighting to keep coal and gas out of our water catchment, including the Gasfield Free Mountain Districts group.
• Watch the earth-shattering film Fractured Country: an Unconventional Invasion from Lock the Gate Alliance (Australia) about the risks to communities from invasive gasfields.
• Enjoy some food, drink and good company
• Sign on as a campaign supporter and take away information packs to share with your friends, neighbours, colleagues and loved ones.

When: Thursday 2nd October, 7-9:30pm
Where: The Rhythm Hut, 135 Faunce St Gosford
Who: You, and all your friends
Cost: Entry by gold coin donation (goes toward our hosts and campaign supporters The Rhythm Hut)
RSVP: 29th September

For more info, contact Danielle Coleman or Lou on 0420 682 258


Backlash strips $600m from gas deal

The Australian

July 23, 2014 12:00AM

Graham Lloyd Environment Editor Sydney

INCREASED risk has slashed $600 million from the value of Santos’s Narrabri coal-seam gas project in the Pilliga state forest.

A report by financial services group Credit ­Suisse has found community opposition, uncertain science and unpredictable government regulation have eroded almost two-thirds of the value from the $950m Santos paid junior explorer Eastern Star for the project in 2011. The wealth destruction highlights the huge ­prices paid to junior explorers by big companies in the early days of Australia’s CSG expansion.

Heavy landowner protests and technical and environmental problems already have weakened the profitability of existing projects and cast a cloud over major investments such as Arrow Energy’s fourth liquefied natural gas export train at Gladstone in Queensland. The suspension of approvals for junior company Metgasco to drill for gas near Lismore in NSW has highlighted the regulatory risk starting to flow through to the valuations of unconventional gas projects.

The report highlights the sensitivity of financial markets to rising risks. Santos’s Pilliga project has been dogged by leaking ponds and ground contamination but is considered the frontline in efforts to secure NSW natural gas supplies as existing production is redirected to exports.

After meeting farm groups and other landholders and visiting the Pilliga site, Credit Suisse says fear and mistrust towards Santos and coal-seam gas in general were widespread. The analyst report says Credit Suisse did not seek to verify the validity of the concerns but “assess the risks to the Narrabri Gas Project due to the complex environmental and social issues”.

Uncertainty over effects on water was the key issue driving opposition, the report says.

Landowner resistance did not pose a direct risk to the project as government approvals were in place but “mass opposition is the key risk in the near term’’.

Protest groups such as the Wilderness Society and Lock the Gate have combined with grassroots organisations to campaign against the project. Credit Suisse says opposition to projects can pose risks to timelines, budgets, regulatory oversight, diversion of management attention, and even project abandonment, regardless of the validity of concerns from economic, scientific, political or broader sustainability perspectives.

A Wilderness Society spokesman said farmers and the northwest NSW community were justifiably concerned about the effects of CSG on groundwater.

Santos has entered a heads of agreement with the NSW government for a decision to be made on whether the project can go ahead early next year. But the company missed a June 30 deadline to lodge an environmental report as outlined in the memorandum of understanding with the state. The NSW Planning Assessment Commission has approved nine exploration wells but Santos has to wait six months to complete water modelling before it can drill.

A Santos spokesman said last night: “We are experiencing strong levels of community support in the areas in which we currently operate in the Narrabri region. Ultimately gas projects seeking to operate in NSW will develop increased levels of understanding and support over time, and this is our direct experience in Queensland where we have many hundreds of landowner agreements and communities reaping the rewards of our operations.”

Cooking up a price rise: a report on gas price increases by The Australia Institute

According to a recent report by The Australia Institute gas prices in eastern Australia are going to rise substantially and its the fault of the gas industry itself.

The report, titled Cooking up a price rise finds that the Coal Seam Gas industry is attempting to paint the blame for gas price increases on green and community groups and our collective efforts to prevent coal seam gas mining taking place across our lands when in fact price increases are a direct result of the mining industry’s expansion and push for exportation of gas for sale in overseas markets.

In the report The Australia Institute says “These (gas) price rises are not driven by a lack of supply but rather by an increase in demand. Once the eastern Australian gas market is connected to the world gas market, domestic gas producers will be able to sell at the world netback price – also known as the export parity price – which is substantially higher than current gas prices.

This link will occur with the completion of the Gladstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. Gas prices will then rise and gas production will become far more profitable. Because of this it is understandable that gas companies are keen to expand production.

Wholesale gas prices will go up from around $3 to $4 per gigajoule to the world netback price of $9 per gigajoule. This is because Australian gas producers will have the option to sell to the Japanese who are willing to pay $15 per gigajoule. This doubling or tripling of wholesale gas prices is going to increase consumers’ gas bills dramatically.

Ironically it is not a lack of supply that is going to drive up gas prices but, rather, the introduction of CSG as a new form of supply. Without this additional supply it is unlikely that gas  production  would  have  been  large  enough  in  the  eastern  market  to  justify  the construction of LNG facilities.

 This higher price has made the gas industry eager to increase its supply; gas is about to become far more profitable. In particular it has been attempting to expand coal seam gas (CSG) exploration. Public concern about extracting CSG has meant that, in New South Wales, further restrictions have been placed upon the location of CSG wells. This has upset the gas industry, but its claims that restrictions on CSG production are the cause of price increases are not correct. Increases or decreases in domestic gas supply will have almost no impact on the price of gas. Once the eastern Australian gas market is linked with the world market, domestic gas prices will be subject to movements in the world price and domestic production will have little influence on price.

With gas becoming far more profitable, it is not surprising that gas producers are keen to expand their supply. Their strategy of blaming CSG restrictions for coming price rises is designed to turn public support against those restrictions and increase pressure on the New South Wales  state government  to  remove  them.  But these  claims  are  little  more  than posturing and bear no resemblance to what is actually happening in the market.

If business or government are serious about attempting to prevent or substantially reduce the rise in gas prices there are few options available to them. A gas reserve policy similar to the one in Western Australia could work. There would be implementation problems due to the fact that the eastern gas market is made up of five states and one territory that would all have to agree. The Commonwealth government could also introduce restrictions on the export of gas.

Without large scale government intervention, gas prices are going to rise substantially in the next couple of years, and increases or decreases in domestic supply are going to have almost no impact on the price rise.

The Australia Institute is an independent public policy think tank based in Canberra. It is funded by donations from philanthropic trusts and individuals, memberships and commissioned research. Since its launch in 1994, the Institute has carried out highly influential research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues.

No laughing matter: NSW Farmers Association take a stronger stance on CSG


Farmers Association meets at Sydney's Luna Park

Farmers Association meets at Sydney’s Luna Park

As reported in The Land the NSW Farmers Association has taken on a stronger stance on mining and gas, adopting a new resources policy to ban extractive industries in areas covered by Water Sharing Plans until nil negative impact can be demonstrated.

The new policy, voted in at the Association’s annual conference at Luna Park in Sydney will cover NSW’s mining heartland in the Hunter Valley. Gas and coal fuelled a debate which dominated the best part of the conference’s first afternoon. Currently, NSW Farmers is “not opposed to mining or coal seam gas” but advocates that “these resources must be developed strategically and not at the expense of our agricultural land and water”.

While we welcome the newly strengthened resolve of the NSW Farmers Association we also recognise the many real-world examples of farming and coal seam gas mining being incompatible sharers and neighbours of land and it would be great to see the Association recognise the reality many farmers are facing and call for a complete stop to coal seam gas mining in agricultural areas,