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James Ryan

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I guess what we're here for is we know that this exploration license has been granted and we know the way that the Petrolium Onshore Act works there's a minimum of environmental assessment that has to occur and that's certainly not done in the public exhibition sense. before this exploration license is granted. My personal opinion and many other's is that there's a great problem with that. Because, while on one hand it's argued that these are just exploration wells and there is a minimal amount of impact if you have to construct a road to the site to get heavy vehicles to drill through the aquifer and down into the coal seam there are any number of consequences that may occur as a result of that. I guess what we all know is that if the company judges that there is enough gas to warrant, it will become subject to a Part 3A application for a full-blown coal seam gas production facility. I don't know a lot about what happens in Camden but just this week, on Wednesday a Part 3A application was lodged with the department of planning for the Glouster Valley, around Stroud and Stratford I just have skimmed the preliminary assessment for that and they are putting forward a proposal for 60 to 90 wells in that valley and the gas lines from those wells will come to a central facility something that they call a central facility site where they will gather the gas and increase the pressure of it and it will then be piped to Hexam so there's a 100 kilometer long pipeline associated with this proposal which will have a 100 metre-wide corridore and within that corridore they will clear the vegetation and dig a trench and bury this high pressure gas pipeline. There's a right of way easment created obviously along the whole length of that 100 kilometers for continual maintenance and site inspection etc. So, I guess that that is the sort of type of proposal that could be put forward for the Wollombi Valley or Wollombi Valley and surrounds. So it's a big issue, things can only get much much bigger from here When you look at the local environment here and say well why should we have a greater environmental assessment of the possible consequences I'm not an expert in any means on flora and fauna in the Wollombi Valley but I just had a look at a couple of publicly available documents and one of those is the Water Sharing Agreement that's put out by the Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority and that looks at the Wollombi Brook and identifies that you got six endangered frog species here several endangered birds some macro-invertebrates and then you've got your larger fauna species as well like Powerful and Sooty Owls But one of the really interesting things about Wollombi is it has it's own forest type and it's called the Wollombi Redgum Forest Oak Community I think I've got that right [Lowland Forest] Lowland Forest thank you and this community occurs along the Wollombi Brooke and catchment and it only occurs here. Now, the data on this says that there is only about 600 hectares left and that's 14% of what used to be here. So you can see that this is a really highly threatened ecological community if we're doing things, particularly doing things like drawing up a whole heap of saline water and really seriously affecting the water quality of the Brook there could be significant impacts on threatened species and on the local environment. One of the things that the Water Sharing Agreement says is that the Wollombi Brook stops flowing, lower down than this it stops flowing on 70 days of the year. That's 20% of the year the Wollombi Brook is not flowing. and that's quite large. and it's rated as being under high hydrological stress so the demands of the irrigators and the people with the water licenses are actually greater than the flow in the stream. So the Catchment Management Authority evaluates the Brook as being under High Strees And also and I think this is an important point it also says that it is of very high economic importance. so there is a lot of people relying on the Brook for their livlihood, whethere it's grazing, cropping, vineyards etc. You've got two things there that should indicate to everyone that the health of the Brook is really important. and it's certainly not assured. So we should be really really careful about all of these future impacts that may damage the water quality or just the availability of water. Another one of the things I looked at was the assessment for the upgrade of the Paxton Treatment Plant. That's just occurring at the moment so those documents are publicly available and of course that's on the Congewai arm of the Brook that comes in and joins the Brook here a little bit lower down. But of course they did an assessment of water quality on various parts of Wollombi Brook including up here and tried to assess the impacts of this upgrade of the treatment plant And what they found was that they tested nine sites and they found that five of those sites the water quality is really poor So I know we're in a beautiful valley and I know it's a beautiful place but I don't think we should be lulled into thinking that the water quality in Wollombi Brook is great. Because it's not. It's under constant pressure. And the Paxton assessment says that the worst sites the ones that came in poor, were associated with the greatest amounts of disturbance. Development and disturbance. So when you're talking about even putting in test drilling rigs which have to span the Brook which create another roadway, capable of taking heavy vehicles may create saline water, there may be spills of that water the Brook is already under great environmental stress so what we do from here, even little small cumulative bits may be very important pushing that into further decline. So. Just getting onto the local politics of it, and the Council Basically the Council is sidelined in the regulatory session sense from having any impact except for maybe enforcing load limits on local bridges and that sort of thing. Really unfortunately, one of the things that Council could have done is expressed it's concern to the State Government that there hasn't been enough assessment of this proposal. And I put that motion to the Council, in a very innocuous way it wasn't supporting Coal Seam Methane it wasn't critical of Coal Seam Methane it was just saying there is concern from the community and it was supported by Alison [Davey] up the back there and other Independant candidates and it was voted down by the Labour majority which is really dissapointing. I should have said right at the start, I am a member of the Greens so you know what my political orientation is and I probably should also say at this point that there is a Local Government election on September thirteenth [laughter]

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 25 seconds
Country: Australia
Language: English
Producer: Peter Firminger
Director: Peter Firminger
Views: 164
Posted by: wage on Aug 19, 2008

James Ryan (NSW Greens) speaking at the Wollombi Valley Against Gas Extraction Meeting titled "Why we say NO to Sydney Gas".

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