Help Required At The Little Black Cow

Kim Barnes over at The Little Black Cow blog has a situation in her community that she asked me to bring to everyone’s attention so that more people can hear what is going on.  A Coal Seam Gas company is scouting around her region (Belford/Branxton) in New South Wales, which is bad news for the farms and environment.  Kim has done some research on the Lock The Gate website and she states;

“It appears that you can legally stop them coming on your land to explore, but once you have given them permission to explore…if they find gas, they have permission to mine . The other interesting fact I discovered though, was if you have stopped them coming on your property, if your neighbour gives permission for exploration…they can then mine under your neighbours land into your land .
The water I water my organic vegetables with could be affected.  We did not choose this.
Property sales of farmland will be damaged irrevocably. We did not choose this.
The tourism potential of this beautiful area could be damaged irrevocably. We did not choose this. 

These companies have an endless supply of money for advertising and making themselves look good on television and in newspapers. Farmers don’t have that kind of money ….their money is in their biggest asset, their land …..and without that they are no longer farmers.
The coal seam gas companies also have an endless supply of smooth answers that tell us nothing. Real information is not in their guide book.”

There is a local community meeting that you can go to if you are in this area, and here are the details

BELFORD/LOWER BELFORD COMMUNITY MEETING
5TH March 2012
An invitation is extended to the residents of Belford & Lower Belford to a meeting at Kirkton Public School on 5th March 2012 at 7.00pm to discuss the implications of Coal Seam Gas Exploration and extraction. Guest speakers will be present on the night to discuss their experiences with CSG and to answer questions.

MEETING WITH AGL AT KIRKTON PUBLIC SCHOOL

RECENT RESEARCH INDICATES THE FOLLOWING: UNTIL you are FULLY INFORMED and where necessary have sought the appropriate legal advice as to the implications of CSG exploration it is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that:

      you DO NOT sign any agreement with the gas companies

      and that you DO NOT give any verbal agreement for the gas companies to access your land

Contact: christopher.robertson03@gmail.com or ph 65747194 mob 0418427320

Now there is something that the rest of us can do if you are willing.  To help all of those farmers that constantly stand by their gates watching for ‘strangers’ and protecting their only asset, the land they live upon and the surrounding environment, The Lock The Gate Alliance recommends the following;
What can I do?
Do not allow company representatives onto your land for any reason. Meet them at your gate for any discussion, preferably with a neighbour, but never alone. Record every moment, ideally with a video camera. Tell them you are Locking The Gate and refuse them access to your property. A simple “No Trespassers” sign on all access gates will keep them away. Your have a legal right to do this that will be upheld by the courts. 

The industry will try to charm you  and persuade you that their activities will be minimal. A typical line is “We have no plan to …” .  However, experience shows that plans always change. Initial agreements and compensation may have seemed fair and reasonable, but many landholders have found that the development escalated well beyond what was agreed upon – without consultation.

If you allow access to your property you will lose of control of your life, your property and your business.  Once they are into the gas production  phase they have a legal right to enter your property with or without your permission.
Make sure you and your neighbours speak with one voice.  Remember, if you tell them to go away and they must go. Always say NO to requests for access. Do not sign anything. Seek legal advice. 

Where can I find help?
Many communities are affected. The Lock The Gate Alliance has formed to focus on the key issues, share information, provide support and mobilise broad community support through education and the media. 

We will bring about the change necessary to save Australia from a rapacious industry that will affect everyone unless we stop, think, demand change and restore balanceVisit www.lockthegate.org.au and join the Lock The Gate Alliance

Please help out where you can, and lend a helping hand to everyone in the same boat.  If you have watched the documentary Gasland, then you will appreciate that they are in for a battle.

Does anyone in the blogging community have any similar experiences or advice for Kim that they would like to share?

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Comments

  1. says

    I have attended an AGFORWARD workshop on the menace. Agforward is a spin off from AGFORCE. We were advised to always have reliable witnesses, video camera, like you said, meet them off your property too. You can negotiate re road use etc. They can drill in your backyard! It pays to have a forward plan eg you plan to have a damn in that spot and have drawn up your plans, You want to put in pivot irrigation there. You get the idea.

    Agforward has the name of a solicitor who knows this law well. It seems we do not own ANY of our freehold land. Only the grass and maybe a tree or two if we planted it. Airspace is ours up to a certain height. If Kim would like to email me I will give her my phone number and also the name of the fellows that gave the talks.

    Another thing the so and sos have done is to sign an agreement to only make roads 10 metres wide but when the dozer comes in, it is 40 metres wide. The actual well site is supposed to be 100 sq metres. Apparently sme of the Landmark agents have changed over to sell the idea of the CSG and the farmers know them and think they are trust worthy. You know, the old mateship thing? I have plenty more info but Kim may be aware of all of this. It makes me sick to my stomach that the Gov. invited all these gas drilling companies to tender for exploration lease. Come and get it!!!

  2. says

    Laws may differ of course, but here in NYS we seem to be having some success with “home rule”, the legal assertion that communities have a right to zone out or ban various activities within their borders including gas drilling (in this case, hydrofracking). The general tactic seems to be for town boards to update zoning ordinances to exclude any kind of heavy industry which is what gas drilling is.

    A couple of communities have enacted outright bans (not just a moratorium to give them time to change zoning) which have recently been upheld by the courts. The public also flooded the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation with some 60,000 comments about their proposed drilling regulations and I understand they’re running 10 to 1 against. Nobody wants this here except the gas companies and the landowners who are looking to make a quick buck.

    Here’s an article on the two bans that have been upheld in the courts: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-25/natural-gas-fracking-ban-upheld-in-second-new-york-town.html

    • says

      Last night on ABC tv Australia they had a programme on the drilling in the US and both side of the story. It seems that greed is the motivation for it and the companies are not concerned about the long term consequences. One fellow held a cigarette lighter to the tap water and it caught alight!!!

  3. says

    I’m a USA citizen but I support your efforts on behalf of the farmers in Australia. Hope there will be more reporting on how this effort is progressing! I agree never sign anything, never verbally agree to anything, try to have a witness, try to find an attorney who has experience with the situation.

  4. says

    I live in Grafton NSW, there are plans to start to mine CSG in and around the valley. Drinking water for a whole of the Clarence Valley but also Coffs Coast is threatened since they will be mining in the Dorrigo Plateau a beautiful vast National Park and Water Catchment Area and many organic farms. The chemicals used for the fracking and the ground water pumped up for the process will leave the landscape a mess and those chemicals will seep into the catchments leaving a ten thousands of people without clean/safe drink water. We don’t want that! I feel overwhelmed with what can happen here. I don’t know what to do other then feeling miserable that this can actually get support from the government. This is such a big thing, I feel so small.

  5. says

    Gavin, thanks for the links. I’ll check it out as I’m all for keeping them out of our property.
    Marijke, living in the Macleay River area means much runoff water from the Dorrigo Plateau ends up here especially when there’s high rainfall. I’ll be researching what I can do to protest and help prevent this. I don’t know why we can’t have windmills for power supply with all the coastal breezes and the nearly non stop winds in the hills around here!
    Robyn

  6. says

    Thankyou to the people who have added suggestions. I have been researching what the government stand is on this subject. With any government department , information is out there is you look hard enough. If you would like to know if there are any coal seam gas exploration activities going on near you , do the following:
    Google: Department of Mines and Energy NSW (or your state govt. dept).
    Search: Coal Seam Gas
    Click on : Where Can I Find INormation and Locations of Petroleum Gas Exploration?

    Click on : Petroleum Titles and Applications

    And up will come a list of all the areas being explored and which companies are doing it.

    In my area , I have 68 blocks NNW of Cessnock and 36 blocks NE of Raymond Terrace. …all by AGL Upstream Investments Pty Ltd.Amazing , it isn’t advertised readily, but the information is there if you look.

    This just gives you exploration data, it doesnt tell you if that land is being used as such …but there is other data you can access in the site that may well do.
    The government stand according to the website is that as long as these people follow the rules they set, they can build a gas well once they find gas. I say….Change the rules.

  7. says

    It’s all quite mindblowing and so extremely short sighted. Or… a better term would be ‘un-sighted’.

    It’s scary and unfortunately, mining still enjoys the ‘paramount importance’ status in legal and social and political circles. We can change the latter two and hopefully force the first to follow. Let’s frack their agenda!

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