Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon
“We are doing a Caroona” was how I was greeted when we arrived at the Gloucester blockade to stop AGL from putting drill rigs on farming land.
Locals at the latest action to take on the coal seam gas industry have been buoyed by the two successful blockades on the Liverpool Plains. One of those blockades occurred at Caroona, where farmers kept the action going for nearly two years.
You can see more photos on my facebook page.
Now the front line of the campaign against CSG mining in NSW has shifted to Gloucester. While I was there about 40 locals and supporters gathered together to plan the roster to ensure people would be present day and night to keep the road blocked to the AGL trucks a few hundred metres away.
A kitchen and meeting area have been established and tents are springing up on the land of a supportive farmer.
Many of the locals I had met on previous visits to back their campaign to protect the valley from the ravages of coal mining. Now the government has opened up this region to an industrial wasteland future by giving the go ahead to CSG operations.
AGL won approval for this project in the last days of the former NSW Labor government, with the previous Minerals Resources Minister Ian Macdonald giving the go ahead. Macdonald’s current appearance before ICAC has further fuelled local anger.
The blockade, organised by Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance, has two demands. They are calling for no drilling to occur until the results of their case before the Land and Environment Court are announced.
And like the recently successful blockade of Santos on Liverpool Plains they are wanting an independent hydro-geological study to be completed and made public. In this case the study would cover the Gloucester Basin.
Very few of the people I sat with on the dusty road had any experience of blockades or protests. Some said they were nervous. All spoke of their deep commitment to the valley. For them it is about protecting the land, the water, the lifestyle and the future.
We shared our feelings and what brought us together. Many said how it was hitting them hard emotionally. One woman who had recently moved back to the valley said: “I was looking forward to returning to a quiet, friendly community with a beautiful, healthy environment and now this. We have to stop them.”
Others spoke of feeling deeply devastated but that made them committed to the blockade. A theme of the comments was that they did not believe what the government or the mining companies tell them about their plans for Gloucester.
It was wonderful to have a few hours back in the beautiful Gloucester Valley and catch up with old friends. Sad it was under such circumstances though. These people are very courageous. Just this morning I heard that the police might try and move the blockaders off the road today.
Whatever happens state and federal governments are under massive pressure to protect farming land, water resources and the environment from the ravages of coal seam gas mining.
A little down the road from Gloucester at Fullerton Cove locals have also adopted the Lock the Gate demands. Check out their facebook page.
For more information on the Greens actions on coal seam gas:
Greens NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham has introduced in the Legislative Council the Greens Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill 2011. His website has many resources relevant to the campaign.
Greens Senator and mining spokesperson Larissa Waters has introduced into the Senate the Greens’ Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2011.
Larissa’s interview on ABC24 covers the release of the Senate inquiry's interim report into the coal seam gas industry.