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Issue #1640      May 28, 2014

Good riddance: Santos CSG rolls out of the Pilliga

A controversial period of Santos coal seam gas exploration drilling in North West NSW came to an end last week, after months of blockades, arrests and delays.

Twenty one people, including 18 local farmers and community members, were arrested while delaying Santos drilling activities since it commenced in December last year. During that time, several hundred farmers and local community members participated in activities blocking access gates and defying Forestry exclusion zones that were placed around the increasingly controversial drilling areas.

Santos only had approval to drill eight new coal seam gas exploration wells in the Pilliga forest, and does not have any further approvals at present. The eight wells quickly became the focus of concerted and escalating community efforts to disrupt the controversial drilling activity in the precious recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin groundwater resource.

“The community really came together and stood up for our water resources and our kids’ future when they took action to block those Santos coal seam gas rigs,” said 26 year old Josh Borowski, a third generation farmer of the Pilliga area, who recently joined with five other farmers in a lock-on protest a Santos drilling rig.

“I’m glad to know those CSG rigs are out of the forest for now. If Santos try to bring drill rigs back into the Pilliga they are likely to see escalating community opposition. We’re really genuine and unified about protecting our land, water and rights,” he said.

“We are absolutely delighted to see the backs of Santos’ coal seam gas drilling rigs,” said Sarah Ciesiolka, a farmer living just north of the Narrabri Gas Project area.

“The past few months have seen a landslide of community opposition to Santos’ coal seam gas drilling plans.

“The community has grown stronger together in our opposition, particularly in response to the coal seam gas groundwater contamination and the questionable fast-tracking of the Narrabri Gas Project.

“Santos, if you try to bring back your CSG drilling rigs, you can expect to be confronted by an ever more determined community” she said.

The Santos drill rigs leaving the Pilliga forest came just days after a CSG drilling rig was refused access to drill at Bentley in northern NSW. Santos must now wait until an upcoming Planning Assessment Commission meeting in Narrabri on June 19 to determine if they can drill further exploration wells in the forest.

Next article – Decision to weaken wildlife protection in Leard Forest

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