The NSW Government approved exploration for coal seam gas 500m from the World Heritage Wollemi National Park at Putty. The Australian 'gas rush' for export needs to be reconsidered taking into account the impacts on the environment, people’s health, livelihoods and plans for the future.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Media release - CSG Drilling to start Monday at Putty Valley
CSG Drilling to start Monday at PuttyValley threatening the WollemiNational Park and Hawkesbury Oyster Farmers
An exploration core hole for coal seam gas will start on Monday 15 August at Putty, 500 metres from the WorldHeritageWollemiNational Park.
The small rural community were informed today by Dart Energy when someone phoned them on another matter. They were told at a meeting in LeichhardtTown Hall on 1 August 2011 that drilling would not commence until mid to end of September. At the same meeting Robbert de Weijer from Dart Energy continually told the meeting about his company’s policy of transparency and their belief in community consultation.
The Review of Environmental Factors states “2.7 Stakeholder Consultation -
Macquarie Energy will continue with the previously initiated program of community and stakeholder engagement until all works have been completed.” “Macquarie Energy will inform nearby affected residents of the proposed drilling works via a letter box drop.”
‘The only community consultation Dart Energy has had with the people of Putty is at our instigation,’ said Kathy McKenzie, chairperson of the Putty Community Association CSG Subcommittee. ‘I write a community newsletter and they have my contact details, but I was only informed about drilling starting on Monday when I called Jason Needham this morning on another matter. When asked if the neighbouring landholders had been informed I was told that someone was at Putty today informing them.’
The community is outraged and plans to protest at a neighbouring property “Wheeny” 85km from Windsor and 86km from Singleton on the
from 11am to 2pm on Sunday 14 August. Protesters are advised to bring their own food and refreshments. Some protesters will also be there to greet the drillers when they arrive on Monday.
‘We understand that an exploration core hole should not require fracking, does not usually extract production water and will therefore cause less environmental damage than a pilot or production well,’ said Kathy. ‘We also know that exploration approvals are given with fewer controls than for production to make it viable for mining companies to assess an area’s potential. However, if commercially viable quantities of gas are identified during exploration, there will be pressure to turn the entire area into industrial production facilities to the detriment of the HawkesburyRiver catchment area and the National Parks.
The core hole is located on Long Wheeney Creek which runs through the national park into the ColoRiver before joining the HawkesburyRiver.
The ColoRiver was declared a ‘WildRiver’ in 2008 and is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. ‘Wild rivers are rivers that are in near-pristine condition in terms of animal and plant life and water flow, and are free of the unnatural rates of siltation or bank erosion that affect many of Australia's waterways.’
Putty is surrounded by the Wollemi and YengoNational Parks, part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.WollemiNational Park is especially significant for the opportunity of protecting the largest wilderness area remaining in New South Wales, home to the world-famous Wollemi Pine.
‘The extraction of coal seam gas and the consequent release of contaminated water and other toxic by-products near a national park risks contamination of that ecosystem,’ said Kathy McKenzie. ‘Additionally there is, to date, no way of assuring that any extraction is limited to the areas outside the protection of the park.Arguably any company undertaking any level of extraction near a national park risks adversely impacting upon the protected areas above and below the ground. Gas wells in Putty can be no further than approximately 10km from a National Park