Thousands of people from all walks of life gathered today, Thursday, September 14, to protest the proposed coal seam gas fields and pipelines in the Piliga and Liverpool Plains.
The protest march, at NSW Parliament House, was coordinated by a number of groups, including the Country Womens Association NSW, the Gomeroi people, NSW Farmers, Lock The Gate Alliance and Unions NSW, and included a broad cross-section of NSW.
NSW Farmers president Xavier Martin said NSW was being asked to de-fossilise society, including the operating environment in farming and in the landscape.
He said people were pushing back on the concept of developing new gas fields and putting a pipeline through from Queensland, particularly when there were unmanageable risks around groundwater that could also impact on the Great Artesian Basin, the sub-Artesian Basin and supplementary aquifers.
"We don't have a Warragamba Dam up in our valleys," he said.
"What we have is towns and villages and farms that rely on bores, windmills and wells.
"CSG, by its very nature, de-waters the subsoil, it takes water out of the substrata to free up those molecules of fossil fuel. And if we remove that water, not only do we have less quantity, but what's left suffers in quality."
Mr Martin said the area could ill-afford any drop in water quality.
"In the last drought we saw farms, villages, towns where hot water systems were giving up in less than 12 months," he said.
"Same with dishwashers and washing machines, because the water quality was so concentrated, so depleted; it was so diminished by the depletion of the aquifers.
"The last thing we want is for those aquifers to be under even more stress."
Mr Martin said he was pleased with the huge breadth of the community on hand to support the rally.
"It wasn't just CWA and NSW Farmers, it was the Gomeroi, Lock The Gate Alliance and Unions NSW," he said.
"And I saw everyone from midwives to timber workers and emergency services members to truckies.
"There's a whole lot of people saying, hang on, if we've got to de-fossilise our energy mix, what are we doing going ahead with this and jeopardising our water.
"Whenever we might finish with fossil fuels, we know we're still going to need food and clothing after that.
"So we need our water and our floodplains in pristine condition, not an industrial landscape from coal seam gas."
Gomeroi custodian Suellyn Tighe said many different groups had come together to show their support.
"We're gathering to save the Pilliga and Liverpool Plains from the environmentally destructive fossil fuel company Santos," Ms Tighe said.
"We have come from many walks of life to be here. We stand in solidarity. It is with this collective fortitude we demand the state and federal governments stop extraction, consumption and selling of fossil fuels and with all haste transition to green and renewable energy."
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW coordinator, Nic Clyde, said the Minns government needed to start listening.
"People from all walks of life in NSW are demanding the Minns Government take immediate action and stop Santos from destroying the Pilliga Forest and Liverpool Plains foodbowl," he said.
"There has been a serious failure by NSW governments to act in the interests of ordinary people, rather than the short-sighted interests of billion dollar gas companies.
"We won't give up until the Minns Government listens. It must follow in the footsteps of Victoria and the ACT and embark on a sensible plan to phase out fossil gas, creating a cleaner climate for everyone."
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