CSG protesters ask council to help blockade

A 2011 rally against CSG mining held on Sea Cliff Bridge.
A 2011 rally against CSG mining held on Sea Cliff Bridge.

Greens councillor Jill Merrin will tonight ask Wollongong City Council to take the unusual step of supporting an anti-coal seam gas blockade if exploratory drilling is approved in the northern Illawarra.

In a notice of motion at tonight's meeting, Cr Merrin will propose the council provide logistical support like portable toilets, rubbish facilities and shade structures for activists staging a blockade against Apex Energy's plan to drill 16 exploration wells around Darkes Forest and Maddens Plains.

Cr Merrin will also propose that the council write to the NSW Government to advise of its blockade support.

Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore will speak at the meeting to urge other councillors to support Cr Merrin's motion.

She said this move would be a "natural extension" of the council's already strong support for banning CSG mining in the Illawarra's water catchment area.

"The council so far has said they support a ban on CSG exploration in the catchment, but this is still a big proposal by [Cr Merrin]," Ms Moore said.

"Essentially we are asking the council to support us to do something which is necessary but illegal and that is a huge request.

"But that's the reality we face - do something illegal or risk the drinking water supply of four and a half million people."

Ms Moore said Stop CSG Illawarra resolved more than a year ago to blockade any exploration sites as soon as action started, but hoped it would not be necessary.

Apex's application to extend its exploration project by three years is currently under consideration by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).

The Department of Planning has already recommended the project be approved, saying it was an important opportunity to investigate possible local gas supplies within NSW.

"We are preparing for a blockade in case [the PAC] make any decision to support the development," Ms Moore said.

She said there are 16 well sites, and "we have had to find the access points for all 16 - some of which have multiple possible access points."

"We need to know logistically how we would blockade any particular access points and we also would need to know we have toilets and the ability to cook food for people - all of the things that would go along with people essentially camping in an area to staff a 24-hour blockade," she said.


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