The state’s peak farming body is dismayed by the Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) decision to approve the Narrabri Gas Project despite a raft of concerns voiced by farmers and the community.
NSW Farmers says its members believe the project poses an unacceptable risk to the water resources, soil and air quality, local food and fibre production and rural communities in western New South Wales.
“This is a disappointing decision from the IPC,” said NSW Farmers President James Jackson.
“Our members have indicated very clearly that they have no appetite for risk to their precious water sources.”
Mr Jackson said the Government’s own Independent Water Expert Panel identified that the Narrabri Gas Project may result in groundwater depressurisation and drawdown of aquifers and changes to surface water flow and quality as a result of discharges.
“There is also no certainty for farmers regarding insurance public liability and environmental risk if they have CSG operations on their land. The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry described the coal seam gas industry as ‘uninsurable’ and a number of general insurers providing farm insurance have indicated that they are not willing to insure the public liability risk for farmers that have CSG infrastructure on their property.”
“That is why NSW Farmers has been urging the Government to act cautiously in regard to any proposal to re-commence coal seam gas mining in NSW.”
The Narrabri Gas Project is a proposal by Santos to drill 850 new gas wells across 95,000 hectares in the north eastern part of the Pilliga forest, near Narrabri. The Project will extract gas from coal seams at 800-1200m metres.
“Our Members do not believe that any conditions imposed on the approval of this project make it acceptable,” Mr Jackson said.
“Security of groundwater and other water sources and protection of important agricultural land is of paramount importance to farmers. Our members are concerned and they cannot support any activity that could pose a risk to the precious Great Artesian Basin and other water sources.”