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Issue #1634      April 9, 2014

Community walk-in defies Pilliga exclusion

As the Guardian went to press over 60 people from across NSW were inspecting Santos’ coal seam gas operations in the Pilliga forest in defiance of exclusion orders designed to prevent the public entering the area.

Jai Allison, a 32-year-old water engineer from Wingham said, “I’m here because I don’t support the industrialisation of farmlands and natural heritage for coal seam gas. The groundwater resources of the Great Artesian Basin are precious to all Australians, providing water to thousands of farmers growing food for us.

“I’ve heard about the spill sites and the groundwater contamination and wanted to see the damage first hand. I’m willing to risk being fined to expose what Santos are doing to this forest, and planning to do.

“I was inspired to visit this site after hearing about the six local farmers who locked onto coal seam gas drilling machinery in the Pilliga. We need healthy food-producing areas, forests and clean water. Why put all of that at risk for a short-term industrial gasfield?”

The people walking into the Pilliga forest are some of the 500 people from across NSW who partied for the Pilliga with Ash Grunwuld and a host of other renowned Australian music acts at local tourism resort Pilliga Pottery.

Their walk-in follows action when six local farmers locked onto coal seam gas equipment on a drill site in the Pilliga, and a local business analyst locked onto a drill rig truck heading for the Santos exploration site.

Narrabri district farmer Sarah Ciesiolka supports the protests and said, “The Pilliga State Forest is public land that should be open to all people, not locked up for the private use of Santos and their controversial coal seam gas project.”

Next article – Abbott govt belittles UN climate change report

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