Of those that made submissions to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment on the proposed Santos Narrabri Gas Project, the majority 64 per cent of Narrabri Local Area object to the project and only 36 per cent support the project.

When people beyond the Narrabri local area are included, the opposition is even higher.

Of all the 22,949 valid submissions made in relation to the proposed project (a record response), 22,484 (98 per cent) objected to it – the largest opposition to any project in the history of NSW.

Yet, at the 2020 Santos Annual General Meeting, chairman Keith Spence claims the opposite, “we are confident the Narrabri Project enjoys strong support in the local Narrabri Community – the majority 58 per cent of submitters in the Narrabri area support the project”.

Santos’s desperation to create the illusion of a social licence to operate for the sake of its investors has led it to dismiss the validity and clearly expressed views of the majority of Narrabri people and an extraordinary 22,639 submissions.

These 22,639, people, experts and organisations highlighted the negative impacts of the proposed Narrabri Gas Project, impacts that will extend well beyond its physical boundaries.

These negative impacts, include green house gas emissions, light pollution from flares, desecration of Gomeroi lands, the disposal of 430,000 tonnes of toxic salts, and the draw down and contamination of underground fresh water systems such as the Great Artesian Basin do not respect local government boundaries.

In spite of the considerable sums on sponsorship and donations that Santos has spent attempting to win support in the Narrabri area, those who object to the proposed project still outnumber those who support it by two to one.

Two other surveys confirm the sentiment expressed in submissions to the Department of Planning and Environment.

Opposition to the proposed Narrabri Gas Project is even greater outside the Narrabri area, where surveys show 96 per cent are against it. Landholders know they will have to bear the risk of contamination of their products from coal seam gas development, as no insurance company will provide them cover against it. For Santos to cherry pick the numbers to contrive a social licence to operate is a sign of desperation and has not overcome the overwhelming opposition to the project.

Stuart Murray, president, People for the Plains, Narrabri

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