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

 

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Gasfield Free Mountain Districts submission to “Your Future Central Coast 2031” plan

The Central Coast Regional Office NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure have recently produced a discussion paper titled 2031 / Your Future Central Coast. The Discussion Paper focuses on areas important to supporting the projected addition of  64,250 people to the Central Coast by 2031 – housing, jobs, transport, infrastructure, natural resources (such as water supplies) and services, and the question of how we maintain the natural environment.

Our assessment of the focus of the planning is that it is very biased toward growth and an expansion of the extractive industries and there is no mention of how the rural lifestyle in the Mountain Districts will be preserved and enriched. The plan assumes the area will continue to be a source of fossil fuel mining including Coal Seam Gas for decades to come, a position at odds with calls from climate scientists for a rapid move to renewable energy sources.

We therefore undertook to send a submission in response to the discussion paper outlining the community’s views regarding Coal Seam Gas mining. Our submission is here, for your reference (PDF file).

The Mountain Districts Association also undertook to submit a response, which had a far broader scope than the Gasfield Free Mountain Districts submission – going beyond the question of CSG to also look at housing, roads, infrastructure and so on. The MDA’s response will be published on their website shortly.

The Department’s planning process allowed for a period of community consultation. This feedback will then inform the development of a new Regional Growth and Infrastructure Plan for the Central Coast. We are advised by the Dept. of Planning that the draft version of the RGIP will be out in approximately six months. We will also be commenting on that document when appropriate.

Survey co-ordinators meeting

The nitty-gritty process of starting to survey our communities started last night with a training session for the co-ordinators for our survey volunteer teams. All up we have just over 80 survey volunteers, including members of the Anti CSG organising committee. To help keep everything on track, and to help us scale we have asked for some of the broader set of surveyors to nominate themselves as precinct co-ordinators (which we’ll call ‘PCs’ to save some typing). The PCs will each take a survey territory, then organise their respective teams of surveyers to do the actual doorknock, and then get the results and any funds raised back to the committee. Funds will be raised through the sales of CSG DVDs, Lock the Gate signs and donations (we’re covering our costs for the DVDs and the LtG signs which the committee buys from the Lock the Gate Alliance).

surveyors meeting

Last night at Kulnura Hall Anti-CSG committee convener John Edye  explained the rationale and process behind the survey: to accurately gauge whether the community wishes to remain Gasfield Free. Hundreds of other rural communities like ours throughout Australia have undertaken similar surveys and have subsequently declared their overwhelming desire to remain Gasfield Free.

Byron Bay, Northern Rivers, NSW, December 12, 2013When the overwhelming majority of a community says “No” to coal seam gas mining in their districts gas mining companies know they’ll face extremely strong resistance from landholders when they start trying to negotiate access agreements. The end result is that the gas companies back down.

Meeting attendees heard from seasoned doorknocker Kate de Costa on how what to expect, how to be successful, and how best to approach households. Several attendees who had taken part in the survey of Ironbark Road emphasised how welcoming residents had been to their entreaties. Kate recommended teams of two surveyors people, suggesting that two men together would probably be less effective as unfortunately some people may be intimidated to see two burly strangers armed with clipboards and yellow plastic triangles arriving on the doorstep. Kate also stated that the only thing to fear about the survey effort is the likelihood of being offered an uncomfortable number of cups of tea!

John Edye also gave a tutorial on the differences between conventional gas extraction and the extraction of so called “tight gas”, of which coal seam gas is one type. “Tight gas” is bound within the rock and mineral strata due to the low permeability of the rock and by hydraulic pressure and will not flow to the gas well head without the pressure being reduced (by pumping out the water), and in some cases by fracturing (a.ka. “fracking”) the surrounding rock layers. The geology of the Mountain District will not require fracking, however it will require pumping out of subsurface water; drawing down the valuable aquifer that we rely on for our farming industry and local environment.

Survey volunteers will mobilise over the coming months, with residents being advised of an impending road survey through a letter box drop of a Survey Flyer.  Please note that on the back of the flyer that will be delivered there is a considerable amount of information for your reference concerning coal seam gas.

So that residents can identify surveyors everyone has been provided with a yellow identification badge. So please welcome us over the coming months to your doorstep and let us know whether you wish your community to remain Gasfield Free.

If you would like to join us and can help survey within your own area, or nearby please email us and let us know.