It’s crunch time to protect the Pilliga

It’s crunch time to protect the Pilliga

It's on—after close to a decade of fighting it's the final push to protect the Pilliga forest on the sacred land of the Gamilaraay people.

The Independent Planning Commission has received a referral from the NSW Department of Planning to review the Narrabri gas project. This is the last step before approval for Santos’ plan to plunder 850 coal seam gas (CSG) wells through the recharge zone of the Great Artesian Basin in the precious Pilliga forest. 

Ninety seven percent of the local community say NO to Pilliga CSG—and tens of thousands of Australians have already ...

It's on—after close to a decade of fighting it's the final push to protect the Pilliga forest on the sacred land of the Gamilaraay people.

The Independent Planning Commission has received a referral from the NSW Department of Planning to review the Narrabri gas project. This is the last step before approval for Santos’ plan to plunder 850 coal seam gas (CSG) wells through the recharge zone of the Great Artesian Basin in the precious Pilliga forest. 

Ninety seven percent of the local community say NO to Pilliga CSG—and tens of thousands of Australians have already voiced their concerns about this project with a record breaking 22,700 formal objections in 2017. Together we can let the Commission know that opposition to this project is growing—by beating the 2017 record, we will demonstrate that Australians want  to keep CSG in the ground. We want a future of clean and abundant energy and to protect the places we love.

With the support and action of people like you, we can show that people do not want dirty gas and together stop the Narrabri Gas Project. 

To make your submission count, you must say whether or not your name and submission can be publically shared. We’ve added a sentence in the top of the submission, please remove it if you don’t want your name published on their website.

Image: Hugh Nicholson


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Submissions close on 10 August. To have the biggest impact, make your response unique by writing the reasons why you are making a submission in your own words. We have provided information below, which you are encouraged to use, but please re-write these in your own words if possible. We’ve also included bullet points in the ‘email tips’ section which you can add to your submission or in your ...

Submissions close on 10 August. To have the biggest impact, make your response unique by writing the reasons why you are making a submission in your own words. We have provided information below, which you are encouraged to use, but please re-write these in your own words if possible. We’ve also included bullet points in the ‘email tips’ section which you can add to your submission or in your own words.

We've left two paragraphs for you to fill in information about you and why you care about the Pilliga.


 

 

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If you'd like you can copy and paste in your top three of these suggested points into your submission:

  • Aboriginal heritage is not adequately assessed and consent has not been obtained. The approach taken by Santos to site its facilities with the intention of avoiding “areas of high cultural heritage value to local Aboriginal groups” fails to understand the landscape scale connection to Country and the holistic responsibility as protectors of Country that is intrinsic to Gamilaraay culture.

  • There is still no adequate plan to safely and responsibly dispose of salt waste from the project which is set to be 117 tonnes or two B-double trucks of salts waste every day, during peak production. The plan to dispose of it in nearby landfill is inadequate as no capacity evaluation of the landfill has been undertaken. Salty waste will leach from landfill and contaminate groundwater, farmlands and ecosystems. 

  • NSW does not need more gas resources which fuel dangerous climate change, especially now the NSW government has approved a plan to nearly double the capacity of the Port Kembla gas terminal. This project could easily access cheap international gas prices and price Narrabri out of the market. Furthermore, an October 2019 report from Pegasus Economics states solar and wind is developing faster than expected, reducing in cost and already displacing the need for gas-fired electricity. 

  • The Assessment Report states the project would “put downward pressure on gas prices.” However the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) states production costs at the Narrabri Gas Project are some of the highest in the country, with estimates to supply major domestic markets as high as $9-10/GJ. Currently in Australia customers seeking long term contracts are paying between $9-12/GJ to secure gas, leaving little room for profit generation. The project will clearly be at a globally uncompetitive price for gas.

  • The Assessment Report states “the project is unlikely to significantly impact any of the identified threatened fauna species, given the relatively small area of habitat removal and the presence of large areas of suitable habitat in the region.” However, the report does not take into account the project has the potential to impact threatened fauna through direct habitat clearance, habitat fragmentation, vehicle strike and predation by pest species. This could disrupt the breeding cycle and adversely affect habitat critical to the survival of these species. There have been no baseline population surveys of the Pilliga Mouse. Thus approving this gas field would likely breach the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. 

  • The future of the Pilliga Mouse is threatened by this project due to the spread of invasive predator species, and consequent increased rates of predation; the increased fragmentation from access tracks and dispersed clearance potentially creating unfavourable microclimates, open space, and traffic disturbances. The loss of habitat is significant. 

  • The project should not be approved as the Assessment Report fundamentally fails to assure there is adequate knowledge and understanding of the current status of the Pilliga Mouse or all 35 threatened fauna in the project area or of an appropriate management regime.

  • 35 threatened species rely on the Pilliga for survival–including the endemic Pilliga Mouse, Squirrel Glider and Black-striped Wallaby. It also forms part of a stronghold for threatened woodland birds including the Glossy Black Cockatoo.

  • The Pilliga is the largest temperate woodland in NSW. Santos proposes clearing nearly 1,000ha of the Pilliga, including habitat for the critically endangered Regent honeyeater and for koalas which have already lost 30% of their habitat within NSW in the Black Summer fires.

  • Infrastructure of the Narrabri Gas Project poses a serious bushfire risk due to its highly flammable nature and the Assessment Report does not adequately account for how this risk will be managed. 

  • While the Assessment Report states the project to be "critical for energy reliability and security” we do not have a gas shortage especially now the NSW Government has approved an increase in the capacity of the Port Kembla Gas Terminal. The modification to the original Development Consent will satisfy the market need for more gas during the cooler winter months.

  • The Assessment Report concludes the project would not “adversely affect groundwater” however Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. We cannot afford to gamble with our water. Underground aquifers, like the Great Artesian Basin, support life across inland Australia. CSG drilling is simply not worth the risk and the studies are inadequate to thoroughly confirm there would be no adverse risk to groundwater.