Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Putty goes to Leichhardt

On Monday night a group of 15 Putty Valley landholders and residents attended a public meeting hosted by The Greens at Leichhardt Town Hall. Over 300 people crowded into the hall to hear from coal seam gas mining company representatives and a variety of people who oppose them.

According to the local mayor, Rochelle Porteous, Leichhardt was the first area in Australia to mine coal seam gas in 1932 – 1957. In her address she went on to say how Leichhardt had changed and that ‘You'd think it's a no brainer. You don't mine methane gas in densely populated urban areas.’

Dr Helen Redmond from Doctors for the Environment ( decided not to talk on the health risks of fracking as there is a moratorium on the practice until the end of December. Instead she concentrated on other health risks association with coal seam gas extraction and the need for more data to assess the impacts and to see if the full life cycle of this type of mining has less impact than coal

Dart Energy’s Robbert de Weijer reiterated that his company won’t use fracking and that his company is an exploration company only. As fracking is rarely used in exploration Dart will not do fracking but, according to one of the audience and information given to me by AGL whoever does production will have to frack to make the gas flow commercially viable.

de Weijer said that PEL 463, Dart’s exploration licence in Sydney, was a low priority. No exploration will happen until the middle of 2012 and it will not be in St Peters. The company is looking at alternative sites in large industrial areas.

Ross Dunn from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said ''Drilling will, to varying degrees, impact on adjoining aquifers. The extent of impact and whether the impact can be managed is the question.''

He was also pressed to reveal that mining companies were exempt from paying royalties to the NSW Government on coal seam gas extraction for five years to encourage exploration.

Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton said that landholders are custodians of the land. When the gas companies come on you lose control of your property and you don’t know who is entering your property. Governments are not listening to the people. More people need to stand up and be counted to be against coal seam gas mining. Everyone was told to go and talk to all their friends.

The Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said, "The industry uses words like 'currently'; they say, 'we currently have no plans', 'at this stage we have no plans', and that's how it grows, incrementally, bit by bit."

"I have not met one person out of the thousands and thousands that I've talked to in the last six months who have said they want coal seam gas."

Jeremy has introduced a bill calling for a 12-month moratorium on coal seam gas mining. When Dart Energy’s insisted that as an exploration company they have little impact on the environment, Jeremy asked who is going to maintain all the exploration core holes over the next 20, 50 or 1000 years. Will Dart still be around then?

In conversation with Dart’s geologist Jason Needham after the meeting he confirmed that they plan to start drilling at Putty mid to end of September. The core hole will go to a depth of 900 metres.

At the Q&A session at Putty Robbert de Weijer’s favourite word was sustainable but last night it was transparent. ‘We want to be transparent, we believe in transparency,’ he bleated.

Jason confirmed that Dart Energy has not informed neighbouring properties that they have approval to drill a core hole nearby or given them any information on what this entails. ‘We are waiting to find out when the drilling rig is available,’ he said.

3/8/11 – Sydney Morning Herald - The coal seam gas industry has conceded that extraction will inevitably contaminate aquifers.

1/8/11 Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has been caught up in the coal seam gas controversy after finding out his own farm will be mined.

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