Narrabri Shire Council has reaffirmed its backing for the Narrabri Gas Project.

The last Independent Planning Commission online public hearing session was held on Saturday and as the August 10 deadline for written community submissions nears, mayor Cathy Redding has restated the Council’s support.

“Council sees enormous benefits for the Narrabri Shire community in jobs, business developments and opportunities which will extend well into the future,” the mayor said.

“And council is pleased that Santos Cchief executive Kevin Gallagher has given an assurance that he is personally committed to ensuring that, if the project is approved, Santos operational employees will work and live locally with their families as part of the Narrabri community throughout its operation.”

The council has lodged its submission of support to the IPC and presented its case to the Commissioners at a meeting in Narrabri on July 7.

“As the public submission phase of the IPC’s assessment closes on Monday, Council again confirms its support for the project subject to the provisos in our presentation to the IPC,” Cr Redding said.

“We, as a Council will not be deterred from our merit-based assessment, no matter how loud the outside noises are from either side of the debate.

“We have done our research, sought advice and had the debate.”

Cr Redding said the Narrabri Gas Project had been the subject of rigorous investigation into hydrogeological, environmental and social impacts by the proponents since July 2013, and subsequently endorsed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as ‘in the public interest and approvable subject to strict conditions.’

“Our support for this project is largely premised on the social and economic benefits for our shire community,” the mayor said.

“The Narrabri Gas Project, in conjunction with Inland Rail and our proposed Northern NSW Inland Port has the potential to deliver jobs and opportunities well into the future for our people” Cr Redding said.

“The multiplier effect is likely to be significant.

“And over the longer term, greater energy security, self-sufficiency and supply chain certainty is likely to be in Australia’s national interest, particularly in a post-COVID-19 world.

“Narrabri Shire is ready to play its part in Australia’s economic recovery and energy security. We want to make things here, not overseas.”

Cr Redding said during its assessment, the council had sought assurances on issues around the project.

“We want to be sure that our groundwater resources will be safe from harm” the mayor said.

“We want to be sure that farmers are treated with respect and compensated where it is fair and reasonable.

“We want the recommendation from the Chief Scientist’s report on financial assurance to be enacted.

“We want Department of Planning to say that the compensation and assurance funds are adequate and explain this to us in plain English.

“And we want continuous monitoring of gas wells in place, until the science on abandoned gas wells is settled.

“With the right safeguards in place and with the proponent’s commitment to fund further research in the area of abandoned gas wells, we believe this Project can and should be approved” the mayor said.

“As with any major project, there is always a variety of opinions, feelings and perspectives within the community.

“The Vickery coal mine and Inland Rail are no different. Regardless of opinions, our community throughout the assessment process has been able to respectfully express their views.

“The assessment process has been extremely thorough, taking many years to get to this point with the Narrabri Shire community eagerly awaiting the outcome.

“We have done our research, sought advice and had the debate.

“Council voted in favour of supporting the Narrabri Gas Project late last year and voted unanimously – all Councillors – to recognise the economic benefits of the project and make representations to the IPC, which Council has now done.

“The science tells us that the project can be undertaken safely, but we are still advocating for ongoing monitoring of gas lines and a financial safety net through insurance and bonds for our community.

“The gas project will be a major benefit to our community.

“What I want to be made clear to the IPC and those outside of the Shire is that outlandish statements made about the Narrabri Gas project is what is frustrating my community.

“Statements around community division, arguments between neighbours and allegations that relatives no longer speak to each other anymore couldn’t be further from the truth.

“My community is sick of being told how we feel about things and lobby groups trying to stir up trouble.

“Our community has been discussing the CSG debate over the past decade and the community sentiment is support for the project.

“I, along with Council and my community am looking forward to a favourable decision from the IPC.”

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