Category: Media

Koala Surveys within PEL 238

KOALA SURVEY WITHIN PEL 238, October/November 2016 and assessment of significance of impact:

Ethical Ecology was engaged by Lock the Gate to undertake a review of data concerning the current status of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) within the PEL 238 (Santos), to conduct a survey within the PEL 238 and to undertake an assessment of the significance of impact from the proposed Narrabri Project production field would have on the koala.

Currently, the existing gas infrastructure is restricted to privately held land and state forest, though Pilliga East State Conservation Area is located to the south of the current project area on the eastern side of the Newell Highway and the Pilliga National Park is located to the west of the PEL.

The project area covers a substantial area of known koala habitat and the koala was identified by the Commonwealth as Matter of National Environmental Significance (MNES) affected by the Narrabri Project in their Referral Decision (EPBC 2103/6918). In addition, the Critically Endangered Ecological Community (CEEC) ‘Yellow Box – White Box – Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland and Derived Grassland’, preferred Koala habitat, found in the project area, was also identified as another reason the referral was ‘called in’. Of note is that neither was identified in the Referral by Santos as being MNES affected by their action.

koala survey report_DP_2016_reduced



PILLIGA EAST STATE FOREST KOALA SURVEY Prepared by OWAD Environment for Western Woodlands Alliance

OWAD Environment was engaged by Western Woodlands Alliance (WWA) to conduct a one-day survey of Koala Phascolarctos cinereus in Pilliga East State Forest, New South Wales, using Taz the professional Koala scat detection dog. The purpose of this study was to gain an initial understanding of current presence/absence of Koalas across the areas assessed, based on presence/absence of the marsupial’s characteristic scats (faecal pellets). This report presents the findings of this study.


Santos desperately tries to recoup $1 billion loss on trouble-plagued Narrabri CSG project by lodging EIS

  • Santos planned to drill 850 CSG wells through recharge aquifers of Great Artesian Basin.
  • Narrabri scheme has caused much damage, including contaminating aquifer with uranium.
  • Protests will continue until NSW Government ends state’s last standing CSG proposal.

Gas fracking giant Santos has lodged its application to drill coal seam gas production wells in the Pilliga Forest and neighbouring productive farmland, with almost 1000 wells originally planned, in a desperate attempt to recoup the $1 billion it has lost on the trouble-plagued Narrabri CSG scheme.

Santos has already hived off the Narrabri scheme with other assets to offload to try to repay its massive $4.5 billion debt, including the $1 billion it has lost on the Narrabri folly.

Santos is hoping an approved Environmental Impact Statement will make the project more attractive to prospective buyers who would be very wary considering the environmental damage the project has already caused as well as the huge protests against coal seam gas in Narrabri and all across NSW.

The Narrabri scheme is the last coal seam gas proposal left in the state after the NSW Government terminated Metgasco’s leases on the Far North Coast and AGL surrendered its licence at Gloucester on the Mid North Coast.

“Santos wants approval to drill nearly coal seam gas production wells in the Pilliga Forest and the surrounding productive Narrabri farmland, with almost 1000 wells originally planned,” said Wilderness Society Newcastle Campaign Manager Naomi Hodgson. “Santos has a long tragic history of failure in the Pilliga, with at least 20 toxic coal seam gas waste water spills, including the contamination of an aquifer with uranium and other toxic heavy metals. Those spills came from just 20 wells and Santos now wants approval to drill hundreds of CSG wells through the recharge aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin, an essential water source for Outback Australia. “We should not be risking our precious water resources and the Great Artesian Basin on a toxic project that Santos has deemed worthless and wants to offload. “The Narrabri coal seam gas scheme has been dogged by protests by farmers, townspeople, Traditional Owners and environmentalists for years now and they will continue to fight this project. An overwhelming 96 per cent of landholders representing 3.2 million hectares of land that Santos holds leases over have declared themselves gasfield free.

“It’s untenable that the locals have been stuffed for years by Santos and the state government. It’s about time the National Party stood up for the farmers of north-west NSW and pressure its coalition colleagues to listen to the people and terminate the hated remaining CSG scheme in the state. “The Narrabri coal seam gas scheme will do nothing to ease gas prices in NSW as gas is piped to Queensland for export at much higher prices.”

Santos has now lost more than $1 billion on a project it bought for $924 million just four years ago. The $588 million impairment effectively writes off the Narrabri coal seam gas project, which was valued at $543 million last year after an $808 million writedown. Santos also downgraded the Gunnedah gas reserves from proven to contingent.

The Pilliga is our last great inland forest, home to many endangered and threatened species including the koala, Pilliga mouse, black-striped wallaby and spotted-tail quoll.

The Pilliga is a major recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin, an essential water source for Outback Australia, and is also part of the Murray Darling basin, Australia’s biggest and most important food bowl, and a major recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin

The Spill

Spill site – just 1

‘The Spill’ by Felicia Marie Dounis

We have to see the spill, they say,

It’s not too far from here.

I gaze around at fertile ground,

Thick forest far and near.

What is the spill?, I ask aloud,

Anticipating the answer;

A broken dam, toxic land,

This forest has a cancer.

Hesitation steals my breath,

Do I want to see this?

A tainted space of chemical waste,

Our forest’s dead abyss.

I don’t refuse the invitation,

Instead, I choose to see,

The devastating consequence,

Of reckless CSG.


We travel through the canopy,

Ancestors, ancient and tall.

This sacred land at the hand of man,

Would surely see their fall.

A moment of silence is required,

For the site that lay before us;

No ancestors here…

They’ve disappeared…

Though spirits linger in the forest.

Their sadness splits and sears my soul,

There are no words to be said.

I scour the Earth for hints of life,

This is a graveyard…

A cemetery…

Everything is dead.

And then fallen ones appear,

Rotten roots laid bare.

I surrender to my tears, and fear,

That Santos is still there.

This is what we’re standing for:

Protection from this plight.

The damage here, so very clear,

This forest is our fight.

We will make our voices heard,

We’ll lock the gates and barricade.

Arm-in-arm, we’ll do no harm,

And we will protest, unafraid.

I have no children of my own,

But when I do, they’ll know,

That the land on which they stand,

Was won from evil foe.

They’ll hear that warriors for water,

United for their sons and daughters.

Men and women of iron wills,

Did not relent because fracking kills.

And then I’ll bring them to this place,

They’ll feel the magic of this space.

And they will know we stopped the drills,

And guaranteed the end of spills.

Winter Hibernation


A successful Pilliga Push is closing for this round of the long-term campaign against Santos’ 850 well Narrabri CSG proposal for the Pilliga – the very last CSG proposal left in NSW.
Big thanks to every single person who took action, donated, visited camp, liked and shared our posts. A huge thanks to Pilliga Pottery for hosting us on their property. 
We brought state and national attention to this dangerous project. We targeted the construction of Santos’ toxic Leewood CSG wastewater treatment plant and our actions showed that all CSG work in the Pilliga will be peacefully interrupted and effectively delayed. Leewood was scheduled to take three months to construct – it has taken closer to six months, Santos are not yet finished commissioning and have been plagued by problems.
There have been 39 total lock ons and 43 people arrested or charged, multiple fines and many hundreds participated. 
Now construction at Leewood is close to finished the camp will go into winter hibernation. The Pilliga Push camp in its current form is closing down but we’re not going away, just as Santos is not going away. A nearby presence will remain to help locals monitor Santos’ activities and compliance.  Over coming months Santos may go ahead installing an irrigation system to begin its dangerous CSG waste water irrigation experiment at Leewood. 
If there is an appropriate time for action we will put the call out, and we hope you will come – whether that be in one month or twelve. Text 0499 384 557 with your location to be added to the alert list. 
Pilliga Push strengthened the CSG movement in NSW and broadened its commitment to include the precious Pilliga forest. When the time comes for further action we will again show our strength by an immediate response from our diverse and peaceful movement. 

Arrests likely in Narrabri protest targeting Santos on day of AGM – May 4 2016

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Two people are locked into a cement lined car blockading Santos near Narrabri

Coincides with protests in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle

Supports delegation of farmers and Traditional Owners inside the Adelaide AGM

A local Coonabarabran man and a women from Lismore are risking arrest today by locking into a cement lined car and blockading the Santos Operations Centre near Narrabri to coincide with the company’s 2016 Annual General Meeting.

This year alone there has been approximately 300 protest incidents at Santos’ CSG operations near Narrabri. Peaceful protests at Santos’ Leewood wastewater treatment facility have caused significant delays with construction taking over five months when the original timeline aimed for a two and half month construction schedule.

David Paull is a local landowner and an expert in the ecology of the Pilliga. “I’m locked into a concrete lined car and blockading Santos’ CSG activities to demonstrate our absolute determination to prevent the establishment of the Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga.

“On the day of the 2016 Santos AGM we want the new CEO, Kevin Gallagher to know that the North West NSW community and our statewide supporters are determined to continue concerted blockades of any attempts to construct CSG works in this region.

“As an ecologist I know the irreplaceable biodiversity values of the Pilliga better than most. The Pilliga is one of 15 Federally listed biodiversity hotspots and a coal seam gasfield here would directly threaten the survival of at least 10 threatened or endangered species.”

Naomi Tarrant is a 42 year-old women from Lismore and is locked on with David. “I’m risking arrest to show support for the people of North West NSW. There are thousands of people from across our state who support the Traditional Custodians, farmers and residents of this region in their battle to keep it Gasfield Free. No one wants to see these unique lands damaged beyond repair, as has happened in QLD.

“In 2014 international investment analysts Credit Suisse awarded a 50% risk rating to the Narrabri Gas Project and stated its greatest risk was coordinated mass opposition from across NSW. It’s incredible to see this risk played out with locals working with other communities from across NSW to peacefully oppose and significantly delay all CSG works in the North West region.”

David Paull concluded: “Santos has totally written off the Narrabri Gas Project with a $0.00 valuation.  It’s beyond time that Santos reads the writing on the wall, listens to the opposition of the local people and our diverse supporters and abandons this worthless project.”

Nature Conservation Council NSW: Protest Anti-Protest NSW Legislation

Dear Everyone,

As early as tomorrow, the Baird government plans to rush through anti-protest legislation in an attempt to silence community protest against mining giants, logging companies and climate polluters.

The right to protest is at the core of our democracy. Show Premier Baird you won’t sit by and let big business re-write our laws – join us for a protest at midday tomorrow (Tuesday) outside the NSW Parliament.

If it weren’t for committed people standing up for what they believe in, the Franklin River would have been dammed, our beautiful rainforests would have been logged and the Northern Rivers and Gloucester would soon have become coal seam gas fields.

Join us tomorrow and leave Premier Baird a message that coal and gas giants should never decide our laws.

When: 12pm, Tuesday, March 15.

Where: In front of the NSW Parliament, 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney. Map here.

What: Show Premier Baird you oppose his anti-protest laws and hear from community leaders concerned about the changes.

Share: Invite your friends to come via the Facebook event here.

The proposed anti-protest laws were announced on the same day the government said it would reduce fines for mining companies breaking the law from over $1 million to only $5,000.

If passed, the proposed anti-protest laws would:

  • Increase fines for aggravated entry onto inclosed lands (i.e. trespassing on a mine site) tenfold from $550 to $5,500;
  • Threaten up to seven years jail for those who interfere with mining or coal seam gas equipment;
  • Expand the powers of police to break up protests and forcibly move people on; and
  • Give new search and seizure powers to police to reduce the ability to ‘lock-on’ anywhere in the state, not simply at protest sites.

    Today we stand on the shoulders of a proud history of protest in NSW. In honour of those who have laid the path for us and those who will come after, we must show the Baird government the right to protest is non-negotiable.

    Let us know you’re coming on Facebook and ask you friends.

    If you can’t join us, please leave a message for Premier Baird by calling his office on (02) 8574 5000. By hitting the streets and the phone lines, let’s send our Premier a loud message that we won’t be silenced.


    Daisy Barham
    Campaigns Director
    Nature Conservation Council of NSW