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






Cessnock Stu Wonson/Jason Gibbs 207 200






Wyong Mick Gow 313 309


0 4


Gosford Poppe Zouridis/Lorraine Hawdon 701 690






Total   1221 1199 6 16


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.

Proposed changes to the Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Ground Water Sharing Plan

As an update to this mention of several of the CSG Committee’s members showing their support to the protests being staged outside the gates of ROCLA; specifically over the proposed changes to the Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Ground Water Sharing Plan, we have been able to source a good summary of what the changes entail and what they mean to the local community. A big shout out to to Ian Sutton, who has been spearheading the protests over the expansion to the ROCLA sand mine, for taking the time to help us understand the water allocation changes.

As previously mentioned, the CSG Subcommittee of the MDA is laser focused on the issue of Coal Seam Gas mining across the Mountain Districts. We do however share with other active community groups a concern over the health and state of the aquifers the current farming and environment across the districts rely upon. Hence we are very proud to have stood with Ian and many others from the community and from groups  including Our Land Our Water Our Future, Camp Quoll, and The Greens.

We all recognise that the proposed, draft water allocation rules are a green light to extractive industries (including the CSG industry) to accelerate their destruction of our land and livelihoods. It is important therefore to understand the threat to the aquifers that CSG mining poses in context of the bigger picture.

Over to Ian Sutton:

There are two significant changes being proposed for the Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Ground Water Sharing Plan (KMMGWSP). The first is the removal of the current 8 management zones and amalgamate them into 1 ground water source. As well there will be the removal of the maximum water take limit of 200Ml/year per square km.

The proposed legislative changes will facilitate a free water market on the mountain and allow trading of Water Access Licences (WALs) across current management zones, permitting increased water allocations in any part of the Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Ground Water Source (KMMGWS). This will allow zones that are already fully allocated to become over allocated, while other zones may remain under utilized due to those WALs being exported elsewhere. As well, the proposal to abolish the maximum water take limit will allow corporations, in particular, to come into the KMMGWS and dominate the market.

Recently, in 2013, there were amendments made to the KMMGWSP that saw 6 of the 8 zones decrease their Long-term average annual extraction limit (LTAAEL) due to the need to protect base flows, particularly along Ourimbah Creek. Of the 2 remaining zones, zone 1 had no change due to it being National park, state forest and drinking water catchment that does not allow the extraction of water, and zone 4 which was the only ground water source that increased its LTAAEL.

Of the 7 zones that allow water extraction 5 are shown as fully allocated, this means there are no new Water Access Licences (WALs) being issued within these zones. To prevent over allocation of water from any one water source, trading of WALs must occur within a zone, currently importing WALs from other zones is prohibited. To ensure water sharing is fair and equitable, water allocations are limited to the 200Ml/year per square km.

Of course the winners in this new free market will be the wealthy extractive and mining corporations who can afford to buy up all the WALs at inflated prices, while the losers will be the farmers and local small businesses that rely on an affordable and reliable water source. The extractive and mining industries all provide short term economic gain and if their activities diminish our water resources then the entire Central Coast community will suffer in the long term as water availability decreases and costs increase.

It is estimated that the KMMGWS provides up to 50% of the Central Coast water supply and any mismanagement of this precious resource will impact massively on our local economy. These proposed legislative changes are not being implemented to allow better management of our water resources, but simply to allow free trading of water and the inevitable mismanagement and unsustainable use of this resource.

Since the KMMGWSP commenced in 2004, a University of Technology Sydney study1 has been completed in the plan area. The study indicated that capping entitlements at existing extraction levels in these groundwater sources would protect hydraulic gradients around existing bores that impact on base flows to streams.

These base flows sustain our local environment as well as our local economy and the reduction in environmental flows will impact massively on our regions biodiversity. Wet plant communities will disappear and dry plant communities will dominate and expand their territories. With more gum trees forests and woodlands comes more bush fires and the drying of the landscape will only increase catastrophic fire conditions. With our waterfalls, rain forests and wetlands disappearing, so too will our eco-tourism industry.

The long-term sustainability of our local economy and local ecology both rely on best practices for managing water resources. To date the water resources on the mountain have been grossly mismanaged and much damage has already been done. The community not only need to oppose the proposed changes to the KMMGWSP but also need to demand better policies than currently exist to ensure the future security of our most precious natural resource.

To view water as an economic commodity is a disaster waiting to happen!

Three industry myths about CSG

According to Dr Barry Manor, Director of the Doyles Creek business Manor Sustainability Consulting Pty Ltd “There appears to be no compelling argument in support of expanding CSG drilling in NSW or anywhere else, for that matter.  A number of studies have shown that CSG potentially has a larger carbon footprint than coal (for generating electricity).  The overall employment associated with CSG exploration and its capacity to mitigate domestic gas price increases has been greatly exaggerated by the energy companies.”

Dr Manor points to this article as providing more information backing up his statements.