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Issue #1652      August 20, 2014

Activists stop work on AGL fracking project

Thirty residents of the Gloucester Valley and their supporters last week set up a peaceful blockade at the site of AGL’s planned coal seam gas fracking project, risking arrest to stop preliminary earthworks on the site.

The controversial fracking project was approved by the NSW government last week, less than a fortnight after it changed state planning regulations to allow approval to be given without AGL completing an Environmental Impact Statement.

AGL’s Gloucester CSG project came under fire again last week after local residents discovered that the company had failed to properly declare all the political donations it made while previous Gloucester CSG applications were being assessed. AGL has since conceded that it has breached NSW donation disclosure laws, though it disputes the details.

“Something dodgy is going on with AGL’s Gloucester gas project, and we need to get to the bottom of it” said Julie Lyford, spokesperson for the protest, and former Mayor of Gloucester. “How much money has AGL donated to political parties, and what did they receive in return?

“Why did the Baird government change the law to allow AGL to frack for CSG just a few hundred metres from family homes without even completing a full environmental impact study?” asked Ms Lyford.

“The NSW government is failing to protect Gloucester from CSG, so we are taking action today to protect ourselves.”

Some of the blockade participants have travelled from the Taree area, downstream of Gloucester, and say the water catchment of 75,000 people is threatened by the Gloucester gas project.

“Opposition to AGL’s plan to turn Gloucester into a gasfield is coming from all quarters,” said Chris Sheed OAM, President of Manning Clean Water Action Group (MCWAG). “Mid Coast Water and Gloucester Council are opposed to CSG and the Greater Taree City Council have formally asked AGL to withdraw CSG operations from Gloucester. Manning Valley residents will stand shoulder to shoulder with Gloucester, and other communities from across the state, to stop this outrageous assault on our beautiful valley.

“If AGL know what is good for them, they will gracefully abandon this project and focus their attention and future investment on their renewable energy projects – based on wind and solar – of which they can be rightfully proud,” he said.

AGL need to complete several weeks of site preparation before they can attempt to begin fracking. Residents and their supporters have vowed to carry out a campaign of peaceful direct action against the project.

Next article – Liliany Obando – “My only crime is belonging to the Colombian left-wing”

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