Contributed from New South Wales
APA contractors were caught trespassing on a farm near Coonamble, on the central-western plains of New South Wales on Monday.
The company aims to coal seam gas pipe through the area that has been extracted by Santos at the Narrabri.
Local opposition has grown, and farmers are playing a large part in it.
The trespassers were seen by the neighbour, who acted quickly. Within a short time, an impromptu farmers’ protest materialised on the farm and the gentlemen who had entered without permission found themselves surrounded by angry farmers who wanted them to leave.
“Word spread quickly and all of a sudden there were upwards of 70 people there and 30 to 40 cars,” one of the farmers.
“There is a big ‘no trespassing’ sign on the gate they would’ve climbed over. And right next to that is a biosecurity sign with the landowner’s number on, which they could have called,” he added.
The contractors said they had a court order to access the land. They failed to produce it and left soon after.
Someone had obviously tipped off the police and they were on the property in force, almost getting there quicker than the farmers.
The quickness of the response is a good indicator of the extent of preparedness within the local community to take up the fight against coal seam gas. Many farmers are joining in, because they see a threat to their land and animals.
And the evidence to back this concern is over whelming. The use of high pressure and chemicals in the process, poses a serious risk of ground water resources being contaminated. Farmers are dependent on this water. So are other residents.
Regardless of the danger, companies like APA see a source for profit and operate where they enjoy the support of politicians.
The positive note is that coal seam extraction has become so unpalatable that the bulk of the Australian community is against it. This has seen hundreds of local alliances spring up and campaigns right around Australia to put a stop this noxious industry. Narrabri and Coonamble are part of this.
Each day the capacity of coal seam gas companies to press ahead becomes a little more difficult. The industry is almost at a dead end and is just waiting to be buried once and for all.
It just needs a bit more push.