Coal seam gas mining on the Illawarra escarpment could put the region’s future water and clean air supply at risk, Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery warned yesterday.
He joined Stop CSG Illawarra, Member for Keira Ryan Park and Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Sharralyn Robinson in launching a petition urging Premier Barry O’Farrell to ban coal seam gas mining near water catchment areas.
Councillor Bradbery said Wollongong City Council had unanimously opposed coal seam gas drilling in water catchment areas because it would put the health and safety of the Illawarra community at risk.
‘‘The water catchment area ... cleans the air as well as the water, and as far as I’m concerned there has to be some parts of our state and some parts of our environment that are off limits - the water catchment area is sacrosanct.’’
Stop CSG Illawarra’s Jess Moore said despite the lapse of Apex Energy’s exploration licence in the northern Illawarra, permission to drill was still protected by the State Government’s policy.
‘‘Essentially the Government is still in the position to reapprove or modify the development in those areas,’’ Ms Moore said.
She said the group hoped to collect 10,000 signatures on the petition so the ban could be debated in Parliament.
Mr Park pledged his support, saying the Government had a chance to right a policy the former Labor government got wrong.
Ms Robinson said she had seen firsthand the effects that coal seam gas drilling could have on the Illawarra escarpment, adding it was time for the Government to ‘‘draw a line in the sand’’.
‘‘I call on everybody to get behind this and sign the petitions so that our children and their children can have fresh drinking water in this country,’’ she said.
‘‘Enough is enough, there will be nothing left, we are destroying our food source and we are destroying our water source.’’