Farmers in the North West have reacted with anger to an announcement by the Deputy Premier that some of the state’s most productive farmland will be available to be exploited by Santos for coal seam gas describing the move as a ‘betrayal’ of the National Party’s rural constituency, Lock The Gate Alliance said in a statement.

“The ‘Future of Gas Statement’ moves the spectre of coal seam gas from large swathes of the North West and significantly restricts gas exploration. However, it also confirms that the Liverpool Plains, and the rich farmlands surrounding Narrabri will have coal seam gas exploration licences renewed.

“Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck said farmers were already fighting difficult conditions, and would now have the added damage and stress of industrial gasfields to contend with.

“For more than a decade farmers across North West NSW have been ploughing time and money into defending farms and the region’s water and land resources from the threat of the industrial gasfields.

“John Barilaro has condemned our communities to having to keep on fighting to safeguard water, soils and the social fabric of rural communities for the next generation.

“The gas strategy is backing two coal seam gas pipelines, that are fiercely opposed by landholders across

hundreds of kilometres of farmland. We will not lie down and let this industry spread through our districts.

“Future generations of farmers will have to contend with the effects of the climate crisis, which will be worsened by continued expansion of the damaging coal seam gas industry.

“National Party members around Boggabri put forward a successful motion at the National Party Conference in 2019 to have all expired gas leases extinguished, but this decision ignores that motion.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “This announcement and this decision has been cooked up with Santos without any community consultation. It is a betrayal of rural NSW and communities only just emerging from a record-breaking drought. Communities in Coonamble, Gilgandra, Moree and the Upper Hunter are finally spared from the spectre of coal seam gas, and the decision not to proceed with gas exploitation in the Far West is very welcome.

“Promises to seek alternatives to gas are welcome, but the Deputy Premier’s decision to expand coal seam gas is at odds with New South Wales’ commitment to carbon neutrality and makes the Liverpool Plains and Namoi Valley a sacrifice zone for the double whammy of Santos’s coal seam gas damage and the legacy of climate change.”

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