Councils being urged to take a position on coal seam gas

Gunnedah and Liverpool Plains shire councils to discuss positions on CSG while Lock the Gate Alliance members rally

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Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah shire councils will discuss creating a policy regarding CSG at Wednesday's council meetings. Photo: File photo

Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah shire councils will discuss creating a policy regarding CSG at Wednesday's council meetings. Photo: File photo

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Lock the Gate Alliance to rally at north west council meetings.

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Gunnedah and Liverpool Plains shire councils are being urged by residents to take a stand on coal seam gas.

Both shires will hold council meetings today [Wednesday] and both will feature guest speakers eager to convince councillors to find a position against the industry.

Members of the Lock the Gate Alliance will gather outside each meeting to show their support of a position against CSG.

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Local landholders such as Peter Wills and Helen Strang will address councillors during the meetings, outlining concerns regarding proposed CSG projects.

"Farmers feared that the Santos project was a Trojan Horse for gas companies that were holding onto these expired PELs, and now we have proof," Mr Wills said.

"We hope these councils will listen to their residents and understand that sustainable farming and coal seam gasfields simply cannot co-exist.

"With the help of these councils, we can put further pressure on the NSW Government MPs to put their money where their mouths are and permanently slay these zombie petroleum licences."

The push comes after Dubbo and Moree Plains councils took a hard stance on petroleum licences earlier this year and the NSW Nationals' Boggabri branch passed an unopposed motion that called on the NSW Government to extinguish the expired zombie licences.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall spoke out against the zombie licences, telling the ABC in October: "I want to see certainty for the many residents and farmers covered by these PEL's across the Moree Plains Shire so they know once and for all there is no possibility of gas activity on those very rich agricultural lands."

Gunnedah councillor Owen Hasler will put the issue onto the council's agenda and believes it's only right for councillors to discuss a policy.

"It's most assuredly worth having the discussion when well-respected community members, farmers and business owners are raising the issues with us," Cr Hasler said.

"I think it's important in this day and age to have policies that reflect our community's desires and that's reflected in the Mining and Energy Related Councils' CSG policy.

"At the meeting in Forbes last year, which our council was a part of, we adopted a policy which I think is a guide to more than 20 member councils that were involved in putting it together."

Cr Hasler said allowing locals to address the council about the issues would help create a robust discussion.

"Some councils like Gloucester and Moree have taken a very anti-CSG stance, while our neighbours in the Warrumbungle shire expressed their concerns over the past couple of years as their water supplies dwindled," he said.

"You only have to drive through the Gilgandra and Coonamble areas to see the amount of anti-CSG signs everywhere, so it is a controversial issue.

"In this particular instance, these locals have been raising these issues directly with us for some time and my suggestion of a policy comes from that instigation and I don't think anyone could speak more articulately on these issues than these people."

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