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City slickers calling the shots when it comes to CSG wells

Police officers and the crowd at the protest against coal seam gas watch on as earthworks are started on a property on Avenue Rd near Glenugie. Photo JoJo Newby
Police officers and the crowd at the protest against coal seam gas watch on as earthworks are started on a property on Avenue Rd near Glenugie. Photo JoJo Newby

MEMBER for Page Janelle Saffin may be opposed to having coal seam gas wells throughout the Clarence Valley, however, when it comes to action she says she is powerless.

Ms Saffin said the industry had been given the go-ahead by the Liberal Party State Government whose members live mostly in cities.

"The people with the power and making the decisions aren't looking at it carefully enough," said Ms Saffin.

"They might realise when the CSG companies start moving into their backyards."

However it is obvious the Labor Party is a long way from standing united in opposition to CSG.

"The government has taken steps to ensure the Australian community can have greater confidence that CSG projects are subject to the most rigorous and objective scientific evidence available," said Federal Labor's Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson.

"The Australian Government is confident mining and farming communities can co-exist."

Ms Saffin said her views differ from those of Mr Ferguson and she conceded it was the state branch of Labor which allowed the industry into NSW in the first place.

In terms of what she would do if she was in State Government and could take action, Ms Saffin would not be drawn.

"I'm not (in State Parliament) and I'm not going into hypotheticals, it's pointless; ask Chris Gulaptis," said Ms Saffin.

ERM, a company which part owns miner Metgasco, made political donations totalling $57,250 in 2009.

Of this money, $26,000 went to the Labor Party and $31,250 to the Liberal National coalition.

"To date Metgasco has drilled 22 core wells in the (Northern Rivers) with no adverse environmental impact," said Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson.

Mr Henderson went on to explain the process happening this week at Glenugie.

"A drill rig will drill a hole on the surface which will range from 8.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter," he said.

"Depending on the depth of the core hole, multiple layers of steel casing will be cemented into place during the drilling operation which will isolate and protect any aquifers encountered.

"This casing will be tested to ensure an appropriate seal, with the casing designed to be strong enough to withstand pressures below the surface.

"On completion of activities the bore is filled with cement and the site is rehabilitated to the satisfaction of government regulators and the landholder."

OPINION - JOJO NEWBY

HAVING a job in our town really isn't something I take for granted.

I'm a born-and-bred local and I am fully aware of how difficult it can be to gain employment in our area.

I am also personally opposed to coal seam gas being mined in our picturesque Valley.

I live just a short distance from where Metgasco is test drilling and the property I live on fronts the beautiful Coldstream River.

There are a few of those anti-CSG yellow triangular signs hanging on gates around our property.

I have read countless articles on the potential effect CSG mining has on the quality of our water.

With that in mind, I was angered and disappointed by some of the comments made at the CSG protest on Avenue Rd a couple of days ago.

I was instructed by a number of protesters to "zoom in and only take photos of the earthmoving trucks, especially the business name on the side of them".

My response to these protestors was firm.

I wasn't there to take a distorted view of what was happening.

I wasn't going to ignore the fact there were police present and that protester numbers had slimmed.

I wasn't going to ignore the fact that there were earthworks being undertaken at the site, but I also wasn't going to photograph a distorted view of what was happening on that day at Glenugie.

I raised the following point with two of the protesters and will raise it again should I be confronted on the issue.

I am good mates with one of the local fellows who yesterday copped abuse from protesters for simply doing his job.

He too is against CSG and has anti-CSG signs on his property, but none of this was taken into account by the angry protesters.

I occasionally get asked by my bosses to do something which I don't necessarily enjoy, or agree with, but I do it anyway, because I value having a job.

I presume it's the same with the local company concerned.

A job is a job. Work is work.

If they don't provide the materials and manpower, somebody else will.

I understand the frustration and anger felt by many people about this test-drilling site, but we all need to recognise that at the end of the day, these invective remarks will have no impact whatsoever on the company responsible for drilling for CSG.

By hurling abuse at these innocent workers, all that is achieved is a barrier between the protesters, who are standing up for their beliefs, and the workmen, decent people who are just doing their jobs.

Topics:  coal seam gas, wells

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