Opinion: Cooperate to beat gas interests
Continued from last week's paper- Opinion by Lock The Tweed's Michael McNamara
COMMUNITY-based opposition to gasfield developments is strong, currently running at well over 90%, and effective.
Community opposition to individual developments at Glenugie, near Grafton, and Doubtful Creek, near Kyogle, through peaceful, non-violent direct action has been effective in combating industry plans in the Northern Rivers.
In the same announcement that protected the wine makers and horse breeders, the State Government introduced residential and other exclusion zones. They have since announced a moratorium in the Special Catchment Areas that feed into Sydney's water supply.
They did not do this out of the goodness of their hearts, but rather in response to a strong, relentless campaign of community-based pressure through initiatives such as Gasfield-Free Communities.
It is time for local industries to join together to protect tourism and agriculture in the Northern Rivers from unwanted invasive industrialised gasfield developments.
If you are a tourism operator or a farmer and you belong to an industry association you should be asking what that group is doing to protect the long-term interests of your industry and community. If you are not happy with the answers, put the pressure on your industry group to take a strong stand and work collaboratively with other affected industries to pressure the State and Federal Governments to protect the Northern Rivers.
Another reason to take action relates more to economic imperatives than political ones.
Gas miners are seeking ways to dispose of the thousands of tonnes of salt and thousands of litres of waste water produced from each well they develop. AGL are currently "trialling" disposal of salty water on farmland in the Gloucester area. In parts of Queensland, water from wells, after treatment by reverse osmosis, is being pumped onto crops and into town water supplies. This is despite expert advice which says that the current treatment methods do not remove all toxins, some of which are considered dangerous at levels below which they can be measured!
An example of the economic risks faced by agricultural producers who fall for the company spin came to light in New Zealand recently.
Fontera, New Zealand's main dairy processor, responded to this practice and announced that it will not accept product from farms that had used CSG waste water or waste products on their land. It is only a matter of time until processors of agricultural products take a similar stand here.
One message is clear in all of this. If you stand back and do nothing you will have no protection.