Hunter Valley Protection Alliance

    Committed to safeguarding the Hunter Valley Australias oldest
    and most visited wine producing region - for future generations.


Contact Executive Officers : Stewart Ewen, Graeme Gibson
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News Headlines

AGM invitation Tuesday, 5 May, 2016. AGM of the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance is scheduled on
Saturday, 28th of May for 5PM at the Broke Hall.

This will be a quick formal meeting followed by a briefing as to current discussions with the Government. There is number of ongoing issues in regard to planning for appropriate and inappropriate development within the proclaimed Wine Tourism area of the Hunter Valley.

We need as many members as possible to attend. While the magnitude of our victory in regard to the CSG issue in the Valley is now legendary, we need to keep the HVPA organisation going in order to meet any possible future threats. Please, let Stewart know ( if you could make it.

Graeme Gibson will be back in town and is keen to catch up with all concerned over a few beers at the end of the meeting.



NSW government document


This means that ALL NSW IS NOW OPEN FOR OIL SHALE EXPLORATION! This technology is no different from the shale gas and from the already discredited coal seam gas fracking. We may be witnessing another round of the CSG exploration under a new name. The ancient Australian coal basins are full of the shale strata that may contain methane gas and petroleum liquids in widely varying quantities.

An early commercial shale oil extraction started in Newnes on the NSW Central Tablelands in 1906. The projec was to produce household keroseneand similar products (see history details,_New_South_Wales). The oil shale was actually mined like coal in and undrtground mine. While currently it is far more economical to import the oil from the conventional deposits this may change in not too distant future. After all, Australia runs a lot of cars but produce very little of oil domestically. Perhaps this can, in part, explain this government action.



Friday, 14 August, 2015. The NSW Upper House CSG Debate

Yesterday the NSW Parliament's Upper House debated whether or not to strengthen protections of our land, water and communities against the risks of coal seam gas. 

Take a look at who said what, and who had our back when it mattered.

The public gallery at parliament was packed full of people from communities right across the state: there were knitting nannas and farmers, people from Sydney and people from much further afield. 

MPs from The Greens, Labor, Animal Justice Party, and the Christian Democratic Party all rose to their to feet to praise the efforts of our communities in fighting off coal seam gas. 

They argued that we deserved to be listened to by our government, and that we have a right to laws that properly protect our land and water from the threat of coal seam gas. 

Disappointingly, the Liberals, the Nationals, and the Shooters joined forces to ultimately vote the bill down. The NSW Government had the opportunity yesterday to support sensible measures to safeguard our most state's vital assets: land, water, and communities. They squandered that opportunity. 

You can read what our MPs had to say during the coal seam gas debate here.

The good news is we're closer than ever before to winning, and we're not stopping until our farms, forests, water and communities are properly protected.

Thank you for being part of the journey towards a gasfield free NSW,

Kate and the Land Water Future team


Friday, 31 July, 2015. Gas Watch 267. A BIG PARTY TO CELEBRATE “FAREWELL AGL”
Saturday night, 1st August, 2015 from 6 pm at the Broke community hall.
After over a decade of the winegrowing area of Broke Fordwich fighting tooth and nail to save it from AGL turning it into a methane gas field – we have won.
A “Farewell AGL party” will be held on Saturday night. Local wineries will be providing some wine, bring your own beer and soft drinks. Toast this historic win.
A buffet style BBQ will be held for a contribution, catered by Ben Sanger and Monkey Place Catering.
Entertainment by Paul Burton, hopefully the Boys from Broke, and Scott (Elvis) Crawford.

The Hunter Community Consultative Committee held its final meeting this week and; AGL confirmed that it had sold back the PELs for the Hunter; that AGL will sell all its properties in the Hunter; it appears that most of the Gas Hunter AGL staff have been retrenched; that the Chair of the CCC will advise the Minister of the wind up of the CCC.

Hope you all are attending the Broke Hall party on Saturday evening, see you there. Let the Secretary of the Broke Fordwich Wine & Tourism Association know if you’re coming, just for catering -­ ( see Gas Watch 267 ).


AGL Party flier Tuesday, 21 July, 2015.

Party time!

Hi all,

Please find attached your invitation to a party to celebrate the end of the threat of coal seam gas mining in the Hunter Valley. The news that AGL has offered to hand back their licenses to State Government is not 100% conclusive, but it is close enough to warrant a party!

The evening of 1st August at the Broke Village Hall. Terry & the Boys from Broke, Paul Burton from Bulga and Scott (Elvis) Crawford are all lined up to entertain us, with Ben Sanger and Monkey Place. Catering to provide a buffet style dinner for a contribution. Local wineries will (hopefully) be providing some wine, please bring your own beer and soft drinks.

All are welcome. It should start to kick off about 6 and there are no plans to finish! Bring the dancing shoes. To give Ben an idea of numbers to cater for, please let me know if you are coming along (0419 244785,, see Invitation).

Mike Wilson


Monday, 6 July, 2015. Gas Watch 266. Minister Roberts confirms cancellation of Hunter Valley Vineyard Petroleum Exploration Licenses.
In a media release this morning Minister Roberts has confirmed the CANCELLATION of Petroleum Exploration Licences 2, 4 and 267 following buy-backs from AGL under the NSW Gas Plan.

From CSG mining –
• Our health is now safe.
• Animal health and vegetation are now safe.
• Our vineyards are now safe.
• Our wines won’t now be compromised.
• Our water is safe from contamination or loss.
• Our roads are safe from a “virtual pipeline of trucks”.
• Our investments in our businesses are now safe from CSG.

This is nothing but great, great news.
Will Gaswatch 266 be our last – hope so!
( see Gas Watch 266 ).


Monday, 6 July, 2015. Gas Watch 265. Hunter Valley Vineyards safe, at last, from AGL’s CSG mining.
AGL Energy has today announced that it will divest itself of the two Petroleum Exploration Licences which cover the Hunter Valley Vineyards, including Broke, Fordwich, Bulga, Milbrodale and Pokolbin.

AGL said “the overlay of Critical Industry Clusters and the two kilometre setback result in this resource not being economic to develop” . This basis for AGL’s decision clearly reflects our continuing representations and our map of exclusion zones which we continually presented to AGL. AGL has said that “PELs 2, 4 and 267 will be sold as part of the NSW Government’s PEL buy-backscheme”.
After over 11 years opposing the development of coal seam methane gas mining in the Hunter Valley vineyards, we can finally see success from this announcement.

The vineyards are safe from AGL.

AGL appears to have now accepted the position the community has been putting to it for over a decade ( see all in Gas Watch 265 ).


Friday, 12 June, 2015. Gas Watch 264. Deputy Premier has it right – ban CSG mining in the Northern Rivers – protect our agricultural industries
But go further, ban it in all areas of the State where it could affect sustainable agriculture.

AGL drilling at Gloucester The Daily Telegraph reports this morning of a split in the Baird Government calling for coal seam methane gas mining to be banned in the State’s north. The Deputy Premier Troy Grant supports the ban because “the Northern Rivers community does not want CSG.”
It is reported that Metgasco chief Peter Beter Henderson said “There’s a small group of people who are anti-fossil fuel, anti-development…”. Really?. There is a massive community movement to save agriculture, our water, our food bowls, our health from the ravages of CSG mining.
There are sound scientific reasons why the Northern Rivers community, and most other communities for that matter, doesn’t want CSG mining, not the least of which are:
• the fact that the CSG industry has no idea what to do with contaminated fraccing water, with the massive amounts of salt and dangerous chemicals pumped up from the coal seams;
• the risk to fresh water aquifers;
• the risk to ground water and productive soil;
• the damage to the health of humans as has occurred in Queensland;
And further it is reported that, in the Northern Rivers area, there is enough coal seam methane “gas to supply most of NSW for 3 years( see all in Gas Watch 264 ).
LATE NEWS: Nationals motion to stop CSG mining in NSW Northern Rivers fails after state conference


Representatives of AGL, Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Health Professionals conducted a closed forum discussing the health risks of the Camden Gas Project at Camden Civic Centre on 1 May, 2015

Some of the revelations to come out of that forum included:

  • AGL's licence at the Camden Gas Project entitles AGL to spray produced water from the coal seam on the ground around their wells as a dust suppression measure. The produced water extracted from the coal seam can contain all sorts of dangerous and carcenogenic substances. AGL representatives assured the forum this has not been done.???
  • EPA representatives indicated that there has not been any testing of the water in the Nepean since the recent flooding despite significant bubbling being observed near wells MP 16 & MP 25.
  • EPA representatives indicated that there had not been any testing of the soils around the wells at Spring Farm where new houses are being built within 50m of the wells.
  • Camden Council representatives acknowledge that they simply do not know if there are any long term health impacts from living in close proximity to the CSG wells. Yet the development next to the wells proceeds!
  • Why was this forum a closed meeting? Surely the residents of Macarthur are stakeholders in the Camden Gas Project and should be privy to discussions on issues that impact on their health. But then they would see how little the authorities know or care about the risks of CSG mining. This bears the hallmarks of another 'Asbestos' scenario.
    ( read the original on the CAMDEN CSG AND HEALTH FORUM ).
    1 May, 2015.


    Congratulation to Graeme Gibson for his well-deserved OAM !

    Saturday, 6 June, 2015. Gas Watch 263. Answers to community questions of AGL, delayed.
    The regular meeting of the Hunter Community Constultative Committee has been postponed until after October, mainly because AGL hasn’t yet decided what to do with its Coal Seam Methane Gas department. Apparently the CSG wing of AGL hasn’t yet presented the results of its requested review to the AGL Board.

    BUT there are plenty of questions about outstanding past matters which AGL or the Departmental representatives should answer now, at a restored Community Consultative meeting, rather than waiting until towards the end of the year:
    • What is AGL going to do with the millions of litres of contaminated fraccing water from its Gloucester CSG experiment. This water is sitting in a dam and contains carcinogens, salt, heavy minerals and goodness knows what else which may be harmful to humans or to the environment;
    • Is AGL in breach of its licence conditions, or the law, in storing this fraccing water in a dam;
    • What steps are being taken by the appropriate Government Departments to enforce the law or the licence conditions. Does the government propose to take enforcement or punitive action against AGL if it is in breach;
    • What steps is AGL taking to try and “appropriately” dispose of this water;
    • Is there really any way of safely disposing of this fraccing water. As time goes on and disposal experiments fail, it appears there may well be no safe way of disposing of his fraccing water;
    These are questions which can, and should be answered, NO ( see all in Gas Watch 263 ).


    Tuesday, 19 May, 2015. Gas Watch 262. Cancer causing chemicals are dragged up from the coal seams by AGL.
    OK with the EPA because AGL didn’t inject them. Seriously?

    Carcinogenic chemicals (BTEX) constitute part of the fraccing water brought up from coal seams 600 metres below the surface by AGL in their Gloucester CSG experiment.
    These same BTEX chemicals were banned by the Government from being used to mix with fraccing chemicals because of their danger to human and animal health.
    But because AGL didn’t inject the chemicals into their fraccing operation, but rather brought them up from the coal seam with their fraccing water, the EPA reckons it’s OK to expose us to them. And where are those cancer causing chemicals now. In an open dam waiting for someone to think up a way to dispose of them.
    The CSG industry has no idea what to do with the fraccing water they are bringing up from the coal seams, and it is millions and millions of litres.
    ( see all in Gas Watch 262 ).


    Thursday, 23 April, 2015. Gas Watch 261. AGL has no acceptable plan for the safe disposal of contaminated fraccing water – and never has.
    AGL has, for the last couple of years, been pumping contaminated fraccing water onto pasture.

    That trial has now ended with some 600,000 litres (according to AGL) left over to be disposed of, somehow, from a storage tank and it appears some 3,500,000 litres from the fracced wells to be put into a storage dam until they figure out what to do with it.
           Was it a success.    Of course not.    It never could be.
    You can dilute the salty water as much as you like, but the same amount of salt still goes into the soil. ( see all in Gas Watch 261 ).


    Friday, 17 April, 2015. Gas Watch 260. The “Gas Supply Crisis” is nonsense – now confirmed by APPEA.
    APPEA is advertising its annual conference in May, enticing its members to attend with a quote from Professor Stern, the main speaker.

    The quote:
    Professor Stern: “unless Asian (and specifically Chinese) demand weaknesses prove to be shortlived and Russian export initiatives fail, the surplus LNG supply cycle could extend to 2020 and beyond”. ( see all in Gas Watch 260 ).


    Friday, 10 April, 2015. Gas Watch 259. AGL Gloucester methane gas project in trouble again, and again, and again.
    Gloucester incidents, so far:

    1. On 2nd April a methane gas leak was detected at one of the three Gloucester CSG wells recently fracced by AGL.
    2. There is a methane gas build up in each of the well heads recently drilled and fracced by AGL, so it won’t be long before the other two start leaking, if they haven’t already.
    3. AGL has sought and received approval to release a build up of methane gas from the well heads. How dangerous is this? Will they explode? We don’t know. AGL has not said.
    4. Methane gas is more than 20 times worse than CO2 as a global warming blanket.
    5. AGL will attempt to burn the built up methane from the well heads emitting CO2 into the atmosphere as well as the releasing the methane leaking from the well.
    6. Fraccing water contaminated with toxic, cancer causing BTEX chemicals has been detected at the fraccing site as a result of the fraccing and the Government has suspended methane exploration until an investigation is completed.
    7. Fraccing water sent for treatment by AGL on the basis that the treated water was not to be dumped into the Hunter Water sewerage system, was dumped into the sewerage system. The treatment plant has refused further shipments.
    8. Then, fraccing water sent for treatment by AGL to the Hawkesbury area of Sydney was refused by the treatment plant after one shipment.
    9. AGL has no plan for the disposal of the fraccing water and nowhere to send it or put it. In the past they have just sprayed it, or pumped it, onto pasture killing the pasture.
    ( see all in Gas Watch 259 ).


    Thursday, 9 April, 2015. Gas Watch 258. AGL concedes that its mythical “Gas Supply Crisis” is just that, a myth.
    They’ve pushed the “Gas Supply Crisis” line at every opportunity for the past 2 years.
    Now we see it was all nonsense. We’ve been telling AGL that since before 2013. The Australian Institute has also been telling them the same thing for years.

    Today AGL announced an agreement to purchase competitively priced gas from BHP’s Bass Strait gas fields up until 2020.
    In February, 2013 AGL and APPEA dreamt up the catch phrase “Gas Supply Crisis” in an attempt to panic the Government into reversing its decision to exclude sensitive Critical Industry Clusters from Coal Seam Methane Gas exploration and mining. And they succeeded in putting then Minister Hartcher into that panic, he saying that “The Government needs to ramp up the industry to avoid gas shortages and higher prices”. Well he has probably more on his mind now than this comment ( see all in Gas Watch 258 ).


    Saturday, 28 March, 2015. Gas Watch 257. AGL won’t speak to the community other than through the media.
    Nothing’s changed with the promised “comprehensive review” of AGL’s CSG business.

    For some weeks, now, this Alliance has been attempting to meet with, and speak to, the new management team announced by the fresh AGL CEO on the departure of the former GM of CSG at AGL, Mike Moraza.
    A lengthy letter forwarded to the new GM of CSG, Scott Thomas, on 10th March has gone unanswered. AGL clearly prefers to speak, or rather lecture, through the media rather than consulting with the community.
    We did hope that there would be a new, consultative broom following upon the AGL announcement on 18th February, last, that AGL “would undertake a comprehensive review of the company’s Upstream Gas business.” But nothing’s changed.
    As the community continues to be ignored by AGL we can only report what we see in the Press, and that is:
    AGL claims that it has rejected a call by the Hunter Valley’s wine, tourism and thoroughbred industries for a 10 kilometre buffer around those communities. This buffer is not much to ask, and the recommendation is soundly based – ( see the original document and Gas Watch 257 ).


    Saturday, 14 March, 2015. Gas Watch 256. AGL sells one Methane Gas Exploration Licence back to the Government, but sits on one right next door to it.
    Why won’t AGL assist the community in protecting the Hunter Wine and Wine Tourism Industry.
    It’s as simple as abandoning, or selling back to the Government, the vineyard areas of the current Petroleum Exploration Licences.
    And there are plenty of reasons why AGL should do the right thing by the Hunter, the environment and its shareholders.

    1. AGL announced on 9th March that it “has sold back to the NSW Government” Petroleum Exploration Licence 5 (PEL 5) after deeming it “not to be commercially viable” there being “only 10% of the PEL area available for exploration”.
    2. Further AGL explained that AGL has “a fully operational gas plant in Camden, and approvals for exploration of coal seam gas in Gloucester. We will concentrate on delivering value from these assets for our shareholders and for the residents of NSW”. Clearly AGL has taken the view it doesn’t need the Hunter.
    3. PEL 5 is immediately adjacent to PEL 267 which, with PEL 4, covers the Hunter vineyard and other areas ( see more in Gas Watch 256 ).


    Thursday, 19 February, 2015. Gas Watch 255. AGL intends to send a new broom through its controversial Coal Seam Methane Gas division.
    Yesterday AGL Energy announced that it “would undertake a comprehensive review of the company’s Upstream Gas business.”

    It has been obvious to the community for many years that such a review has been required. AGL has stumbled from experiment to experiment with their methane gas exploration; with their extraction; with their community relations; with buying and selling property hoping rather than knowing what they will do with those properties.
    AGL doesn’t appear to have had any cohesive or co-ordinated plan regarding its activities. AGL has continually breached licence conditions and appears to have, a crash through or crash mentality, showing that it has no real idea what it is doing and without any plans for the disposal of hundreds of millions of litres of contaminated fraccing water, salt and other contaminants ( see all in Gas Watch 255 ).


    Wednesday, 18 February, 2015. Gas Watch 254. The Coal Seam Methane extraction industry has never had a plan for disposal of contaminated fracking water, or the resultant salt and other contaminants.
    AGL continues to stumble from one experiment to the next in its quest for extraction of coal seam methane gas from under prime agricultural land. And each of these experiments threatens fresh water and agriculture.

    AGL drilling at Gloucester The Sydney Morning Herald reports today that AGL Energy has had yet another processor of its contaminated fracking water from the AGL Gloucester Gas Field refusing to accept further water shipments. And this current fracking water is from only 3 wells. If AGL can’t cope with the fracking water from 3 wells, how will it cope with the fracking water from 110 wells, or 300 wells, as it proposes.
    AGL’s own figures for the proposed Gloucester gas field are that several hundreds of millions of heavily salted water, brine, will be produced over the life of the project.
    Indeed 100,000,000 (one hundred million) litres of water will be required just for the initial fraccing of the wells ( see all in Gas Watch 254 ).


    Thursday, 12 February, 2015. Gas Watch 253. AGL ENERGY – a living advertisement that Coal Seam Methane Gas exploration and production is currently neither safe nor manageable..
    The Sydney Morning Herald reports today of significant variations in AGL’s reporting of Methane Gas escapes from its Camden wells. (

    AGL Energy:
    • Seems unable to conduct its CSG methane operations safely, openly or transparently. Today’s SMH reports that that AGL advised the Government that up to 100,000 cubic feet of methane inadvertently escaped into the atmosphere last September. Later AGL said it was only 10,000 cubic feet. It is unclear from AGLs delayed reporting which figure is correct, if either. There should be NO emissions at all.
    • Apparently claimed through a spokesman that methane gas is not toxic, and that maybe correct, however AGL well knows that Methane Gas is 20 times more damaging as a global warming blanket than Carbon Dioxide, that it is highly flammable, highly explosive and can cause death by asphyxiation ( see all in Gas Watch 253 ).


    Neither body seems to know what it is doing.
    It is time this Government realised the dangers of CSG fraccing. The CSG industry simply can’t do it, safely or at all.

    The Government called for an investigation and report by the Chief Scientist. They have that report in with 16 recommendations which the Chief Scientist reported needed to be implemented to make the coal seam methane gas industry able to be managed.

    Both the Government and AGL have accepted the recommendations however AGL, with the support of the Government, continues to explore for CSG and continues their fraccing of coal seams with all the attendant risks. Nothing has yet been done to enshrine the Chief Scientist’s recommendations into law, other than to put off any decisions until after the next State election in March. And clearly AGL Energy has proved itself unfit to be operating at all in the current environment.

    We have published AGL’s behaviour in the CSG arena previously ( see all in Gas Watch 252 ).


    Sunday, 16 November, 2014. Gas Watch 251. NSW GAS PLAN – Words only to help the current Government limp through the next election.
    The full recommendations of the Chief Scientist have not been addressed in the “Gas Plan”.

    ... The “Gas Plan” claims to be a plan to “pause, reset and recommence” the CSG industry. It is not that. Important areas, including the Hunter, Gloucester and Narrabri, are being drilled and/or fracced by AGL and Santos in an industry which is currently unmanageable. If the Government was serious it would not selectively pause and reset, it would pause and reset and recommence on a statewide basis until the relevant legislation is in place and then reviewed to see if they make the CSG industry “manageable”... (see all in Gas Watch 251 ).


    Monday, 27 October, 2014. Gas Watch 250. AGL Energy discriminates against solar power. “Electricity (discount) offer unavailable to solar customers”.
    AGL Energy is one of the highest polluters in NSW, if not the highest, and you would think it would work with those homeowners with solar panels on their rooftops, instead of against them.

    AGL has placed full page advertisements in the Sydney press over the last few days offering discounts on electricity market rate usage charges, however has advertised that there is no discount available to those consumers who have elected to put solar panels on their rooftops in an effort to provide green and renewable energy and in an attempt to reduce pollution from coal fired power stations. ( see all in Gas Watch 250 ).



    The Chief Scientist says the 16 recommendations are required to be adopted so that the “CSG industry can in general be managed”

    • *“acknowledges that the coal seam gas industry has technical challenges and risks”

    • “supports these 16 recommendations” made by the Chief Scientist in this week’s final report.

    If AGL is at all serious about “supporting” the 16 recommendations of the Chief Scientist, then AGL MUST immediately cease work in Gloucester and the Hunter generally until every one of those recommendations is adopted, and until legislation resultant upon those recommendations has been enacted. Otherwise AGL will be operating in what is clearly an unsafe environment, which environment the Chief Scientist recommends can be made manageable ( see all in Gas Watch 249 ).


    Wednesday, 1 October, 2014. Gas Watch 248. Chief Scientist’s Final Report on CSG.
    The Chief Scientist has found that the “technical challenges and risks posed by the CSG industry needs to take place within a clear, revised, legislative framework”.

    Whilst some are interpreting the Chief Scientist’s report as concluding that CSG exploitation is “safe”, that is far from how the report reads.

    In fact the Chief Scientist appears to be of the view that CSG production, as currently regulated, is not safe and needs far more stringent regulation, in that the report states amongst many other things:

    “new technology developments which, if harnessed appropriately, can make CSG production increasingly safer and more efficient over time”.

    • Government is advised to “apply caution and ensure major projects aren’t approved without several years of baseline data”. This advice in itself should be sufficient for the Government to put an immediate hold on the Narrabri and Gloucester projects until those ITALICS italics “several years of baseline data” has been gathered ( see all in Gas Watch 248 ).


    Sunday, 28 September, 2014. Gas Watch 247. The National Party gave all sorts of support and promises prior to the last election
    - but since then has kowtowed to the CSG industry which has resulted in the Wine and Wine tourism industries of the Hunter being a “swiss cheese” of vineyards, vistas, tourist accommodation, restaurants, and cellar doors on the one hand, interspersed with proposed coal seam methane gas wells, pipelines, desalination plants, gas works, contaminated water ponds and more, on the other.

    Now an announced freeze on new methane gas exploration licences until after State election next March.

    Gives time for another round of pre-election promises and sufficient time to break them. Déjà vu!

    We need the National Party to ensure legislation is passed, prior to the next election, to protect the whole of the registered Broke Fordwich winegrowing region rather than the piecemeal mapping which has been done to date, which protects AGL properties and not local farmers.

    George Souris, as we predicted earlier in the month, is not standing for re-election. Surely this is a legacy which George Souris can leave us. It’s not much to ask, to honour the previous pre-election promises and protect our industries and our environment ( see all in Gas Watch 247 ).


    Thursday, 18 September, 2014. Gas Watch 246. AGL to set up its methane Central Processing facility near Stratford. Migrating methane from fraccing caused problems here TEN YEARS ago. Why, you might well ask this Government, have approvals been given for Coal Seam Methane activities in this geologically sensitive area in view of the earlier, dangerous, migration of methane gas?

    In preparing its Gloucester Gas Project plans AGL appears, either by accident or design, to have completely ignored, amongst other things, the problems and dangers which arose TEN YEARS AGO when exploration drilling and fraccing took place near Stratford. Stratford is pretty much smack in the middle of AGL’s proposed Gloucester coal seam methane gas drilling area ( see all in Gas Watch 246 ).



    Tuesday, 16 September, 2014. Gas Watch 245. Does AGL have any idea what it’s doing to our precious water?
    We asked AGL a number of questions about what they are going to do with the chemicals it brings to the surface in their proposed Gloucester fracking. They didn’t bother answering the questions, merely forwarded a copy of the Gloucester Gas Project – Extracted Water Management Strategy (EWMS) document.

    It’s a complicated document, well above our pay grade, but here are some interesting excerpts, and some big numbers. How can this invasion of the environment have anything but a significant detrimental effect upon it and us all:
    • It is proposed that there will be 110 wells inside 50 square kilometres – stage 1 only.
    • 3 new storage ponds for contaminated water, treated water and for discharge water, each with a capacity of 25,000,000 litres, ie 75,000,000 litres in total. Inflow into the Receiving Water Pond will be > 2,000,000 litres per day.
    • A heavy salty water (brine) storage tank of 2,000,000 litres ( see all in Gas Watch 245 ).


    Tuesday, 2 September, 2014. Gas Watch 244. Does AGL have any idea what it’s doing? Yesterday, an “as designed” coal seam methane gas escape from an AGL well, next door to the Spring Farm housing estate in Camden, is just another incident in AGL’s litany of environmental breaches in it’s quest for coal seam gas.

    And as we all know, methane gas is over 20 times more destructive than CO2 as a global warming blanket when released into the atmosphere.
    Scientists have warned us before of the fugitive emission of coal seam methane from wells and have published that the leakage of methane from wells and cracks in the strata has been underestimated by some 62,000,000 tonnes over three years ( see all in Gas Watch 244 ).


    Wedneday, 30 July, 2014. Gas Watch 243. AGL announces plans for a desalination plant in Gloucester but is vague on what it will do with the salt.
    No mention of what it will do with the other chemicals they will bring to the surface with their fracking.

    Today’s AGL media release reveals that it will invest in a desalination plant to remove salt from the fracking water it produces from its proposed wells in Gloucester.
    AGL will de-salt 730,000,000 litres of fracking water each year, 2,000,000 litres of water each and every day accumulating thousands of tonnes of salt.
    But the release is very vague on what AGL will do with the contaminated salt.
    And indeed it is not only salt they need to dispose of from the fracked seams.
    There is no mention in the media release of what they propose to do with the other nasties in the water including:
    Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Chromium, Copper, Fluroride, Formaldehyde, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Oxides of Nitrogen, particulate matter 10um and 2.5 um, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Radon, Sulfur Dioxide and other volatile organic compounds ( see Gas Watch 243 ).


    Wednesday, 30 July, 2014. Gas Watch 242. AGL ignores existing data and commissions new report in an attempt to have the Government abandon its exclusion zone protection of residential areas and critical industry clusters from CSG operations.
    In yet another scare campaign AGL, clearly attempting to discredit the findings of the economists at the Australia Institute, said yesterday that we will have cheaper gas if coal seam methane exclusion zones are lifted.

    AGL has no regard for existing, sustainable agricultural and tourism industries such as the wine industry, the wine tourism industry and the thoroughbred breeding industry, which industries it could destroy with its gas fields ( see further details in Gas Watch 242 ).


    Thursday, 17 July, 2014. Gas Watch 241. Meet the Frackers. You will need to get to know them. Why?
    AGL now says they could be thinking about fracking for CSG in the Broke and Bulga vineyards for another ONE HUNDRED YEARS.

    And if AGL does decide within the next 100 years to extract coal seam methane gas from under the vineyards, AGL says there will be a “VIRTUAL PIPELINE” of LNG tankers transferring the methane gas from the Hunter vineyards to its Tomago gas storage tanks.

    And these are just some of the extraordinary announcements made by AGL’s General Manager of CSG mining at the Community Consultative Committee meeting on 30th June last. What AGL said was:
    1. That AGL had written off 146 PJ of 2P reserves in the Hunter and had only 40 PJ left on the properties they own.
    2. That AGL would construct a series of mini LNG compressor plants on their properties.
    3. That AGL would amortise capital investment over 15 years which means producing less than 3 PJ per year with the need, and expense, to move drilling plant from one pod to another.
    4. That there would be a “virtual pipeline” of tankers taking gas to Tomago or elsewhere once they started extracting gas.
    5. That the project would take more than 5 years but less than 100 years.
    ... ( see all in Gas Watch 241 ).


    Wednesday, 9 April, 2014. Gas Watch 240. The official, signed offer from AGL & SANTOS – “Any Landholder is at liberty to say “yes” or “no” to the conduct of CSG Operations on their land.”

    A draft letter can be downloaded for you to use ( format .DOC , .PDF ). Just add your name and property address and send it to AGL and to Santos the signatories to the Agreement.
    Also cc. to

    To protect your land you should immediately write to AGL and Santos informing them that you elect not to have them on your land ( see all in Gas Watch 240 ).


    Tuesday, 1 April, 2014. Gas Watch 239. Agreed Principles of Land Access A document of “Agreed Principles of Land Access” in relation to coal seam methane gas projects was signed by Santos and AGL on 28th March.

    1. The signed Agreement states that it is based on “values of respect, integrity and trust”. You don’t gain “respect, integrity and trust” merely by signing a document stating that it is so. You must earn them by your actions. To date AGL has given us nothing to inspire any respect or trust. AGL has breached its environmental licence conditions and other conditions on many occasions. AGL knows that it is not welcome in the vineyards of the Hunter Valley by the community, by Local Government or by the State Government, but still pursues its coal seam methane gas activities and has elected to have its own properties excluded from vineyard Critical Industry Cluster exclusion zones so that it can drill adjacent to other properties and immediately next door to the Critical Industry Clusters.
        . . .
    ( see all in Gas Watch 239 ). A close examination of this Agreement and how it will be operating in the future is needed.


    Thursday, 27 March, 2014. Gas Watch 238. Coal Seam Gas Science Forum – Minister Roberts attends and announces moratorium on CSG Licence applications the very next day.
    What Minister Roberts heard at the forum must have concerned him greatly.

    The Minister attended the independent Coal Seam Gas Science Forum on 25th March, as did 11 other interested MPs***. It is great to see that the new Minister is openly examining the industry rather than pushing the CSG miners’ barrow, as has happened in the past. It was also great to see so many Members of Parliament wanting to learn the science of this infant, experimental CSG industry.

    The day after attending the forum the Minister announced the NSW Government freeze on Petroleum Exploration Licence Applications until 26th September, 2014.

    The scientific information given at the forum scared the audience of many hundreds of interested and concerned people from all walks of life, who filled the Theatrette at Parliament House ( see all in Gas Watch 238 ). See also CSG Forum webpage , NSW Chief Scientist's CSG webpage.


    Sunday, 23 March, 2014. Gas Watch 237. Hunter Valley Community protests AGL’s plans to turn the vineyard village of Broke into Gaslands.

    Last Friday afternoon AGL was having a dinner at their Pooles Rock property (the former David Clarke vineyard) for, it appears, some of their executives and maybe a neighbour or two. A group of community members, about 40 people, gathered outside the Pooles Rock property at Broke to remind AGL and its executives that AGL is not welcome in the vineyards. It was a small, peaceful protest.

    Rather than interacting with the community and perhaps speaking to the community about their plans for fraccing in the vineyards, AGL “locked the gate” and had a gatekeeper hiding in the bushes to let their guests in, and then called the POLICE!! Wasting the time of several Police and three Police vehicles ( see all in Gas Watch 237 ).


    Monday, 10 March, 2014. Gas Watch 236. AGL’s plans to dispose of contaminated fraccing water rejected by Hunter Water.
    Santos today fined $52,000 for failing to report CSG water spills.

    1. AGL,in an attempt to find a way to dump their contaminated CSG waste fraccing water, tried to have Hunter Water treat it at their waste water treatment works.
    REJECTED by Hunter Water.
    Australian Mining reports that Hunter Water has written to AGL saying that
    “Waste water from hydraulic fracturing (fraccing) has the potential to adversely impact the waste water treatment process and therefore Hunter Water’s ability to meet its environment protection licence conditions.”

    2. Santos have today been fined $52,000 by the NSW Land and Environment Court for failing to report the spill of untreated water at its CSG drilling site in the Pilliga. Australian Mining reports that there were 16 spills or leaks of contaminated water from the series of about 30 test wells in the Pilliga region. ( see all in Gas Watch 236 ).


    Saturday, 8 March, 2014. Gas Watch 235. Fresh water aquifer contaminated by Coal Seam Gas project. A second CSG contamination in the Pilliga – and they haven’t even started to produce gas yet.
    The CSG miners have not attempted to address the problem of disposal of contaminated water from the coal seams.
    AGL Energy is pumping their salt water onto pasture in Gloucester in a trial!?

    “The disposal of co-produced water has proved to be the biggest environmental problem associated with exploitation of coal seam methane fields in the USA, although the quantity and quality of the water can vary enormously between coal basins. Stricter environmental regulations are making direct disposal options increasingly difficult.” (Clarke L.B., 1996. Environmental aspects of coal seam methane extraction, with emphasis on water treatment and disposal; Transactions Institute of Mining & Metallurgy: A105-A113: May-August 1996) ( see Gas Watch 235 to read a blow-by-blow dossier ).


    Saturday, 1 March, 2014. Gas Watch 234. To George Souris – Upper Hunter MP and Minister for Tourism. It’s upto you to now stand up and protect the Broke Fordwich winegrowing region from the ravages of CSG!

    The Hunter Valley Protection Alliance continues to do what it can, but George Souris made the promise, later supported by the Premier, and it is time it was delivered in full. On 27th January, 2011 George Souris wrote, emphatically:
    “As far as I am concerned we do not want gas exploration or gas development in these high profile high value tourism areas and I am an opponent of AGLs activities, a matter which I am committed to my constituents to pursue to finality when there is a change of Government."
    “There are many environmental risks as well but I am sure you aware of all of these; I am far from happy with AGLs presence.”
    “The best thing AGL can do is surrender the PEL and save a lot of time for everyone in the future”

    The George Souris promise was confirmed by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, also prior to the last election, when he was asked a question by Bruce Tyrrell at a public function in Pokolbin:
    “Will you protect the winegrowing regions from Coal Seam Gas activity, yes or no?” Andrew Stoner’s reply was a firm “Yes” ( see all in Gas Watch 234 ).


    Tuesday, 4 February, 2014. Gas Watch 233. Minister Hazzard and local MP Souris exhorted by community to protect the whole of the Broke Fordwich winegrowing region from CSG.
    The Department of Primary Industry (mapping) has recommended to the Planning Department that the significant winegrowing district of Broke Fordwich be divided up into 9 separate, non-contiguous Critical Industrial Clusters – a Swiss cheese effect - it appears from the latest mapping

    We have written to Minister Hazzard welcoming the mapping of 2 kilometre exclusion zones around the villages of Broke and Bulga. We have also welcomed the mapping of the viticultural Critical Industry Cluster Exclusion Zone. But we have brought to the attention of the Planning Minister that:

    “the whole of the Broke Fordwich winegrowing region falls within the criteria developed by your Department and, that when considering the final governing legislation you take into account not only the mapping of the vineyards within the Broke Fordwich winegrowing region, but the region as a whole.”
    ( see all in Gas Watch 233 ).


    Wednesday, 29 January, 2014. Gas Watch 232. Government’s mapping identifies CSG zones. Yesterday, Ministers Hazzard and Stoner announced that “Horse and Wine Industries Declared a CSG-Free zone”. […well mostly…]

    The Department of Primary Industry (mapping) has:

    1. To the credit of this Government, confirmed the 2km exclusion zone around residential areas, which now includes the Hunter Valley villages of Broke, Bulga, Camberwell and Jerrys Plains. This is a great step forward in the protection of those villages and their environments.

    2. Confirmed some Critical Industry Cluster (CIC) exclusion zones.

    3. Not gone far enough in that it has not declared a Critical Industry Cluster exclusion for the whole of the Broke Fordwich winegrowing region (from Paynes Crossing to Warkworth including Broke, Bulga, Fordwich and Milbrodale) but has, rather, declared 5 different, remote and non-contiguous viticulture Critical Industry Clusters within that region. This course is unfathomable. We now have the possiblty of CSG companies able to set up their gasfields in between vineyards, cellar doors, restaurants and tourist accommodation houses in some areas. This has the potential to destroy the wine and wine tourism industry in the Broke Fordwich wine region, the first registered winegrowing region in NSW and the second in the whole of the nation. We hope that the Planning Department will see that separating the Broke Fordwich area into 5 distinct CICs is untenable from a planning viewpoint ( see all in Gas Watch 232 ).


    Sunday, 19 January, 2014. Gas Watch 231. AGL to “focus our presence” in Hunter Valley CSG exclusion zones.
    AGL intends to “focus our presence in the Hunter region at our property at Yellow Rock, near Broke.” This “focus” comes as an unwelcome surprise to the people of Broke and to the Hunter Valley winegrowing community.

    AGL appears intent on turning the Hunter Valley into an industrial gas field, and is moving moving its Singleton shopfront and information centre onto rural land owned by AGL near the vineyard village of Broke.
    (AGL to shut John Street shop, see all in Gas Watch 231 ).


    Friday, 3 January, 2014. Gas Watch 230. AGL continues to be the neighbour no-one wants.
    AGL Energy’s contribution to society during 2013.

    Thanks again AGL for your continued efforts to ruin the environment and to poison the soil and water in your inexorable quest for coal seam methane gas at the expense of sustainable rural industries and at the expense of the quiet enjoyment of residential areas.
    You’re no better than last year – for the 2012 AGL behaviour see:
    Gas Watch 183

    AGL’s community involvement 2013:

    • AGL is spraying salty water onto pasture onto the floodplain outside Gloucester, notwithstanding that the EPA described the water as “high strength effluent”, in a trial to see what damage will be done to the soil. The EPA report was sidelined even though it gave advice that the action was high risk, threatening valuable agricultural land and would lead to dangerously high salt levels and the potential destruction of farmland. Professor Pells says that should the project continue as planned, 2500 tonnes of salt per year will be sprayed onto the surrounding farmland.

    • AGL’s Annual Report claimed that their Hunter Petroleum Exploration Licence had been renewed. It hadn’t and AGL was forced to correct the report when we brought it to their notice.

    • AGL breached its Environment Protection Licence at its Camden gas works by failing to monitor air emissions and commited to pay $150,000 to an environment project as a result. AGL was also to pay $10,000 in legal costs. Mike Moraza “deeply regretted the non-compliance”. That helps.
          There is more, much more, see all in Gas Watch 230 .


    Thursday, 28 November, 2013. Gas Watch 229. AGL - still spinning the figures.
    AGL’s claim: “More than 50% of people in Gloucester and surrounding areas said there were benefits to having AGL Energy operate in the region, a community survey has found.” *

    The facts:
    • The small print in their media release says that only 200 people in Gloucester were surveyed by telephone in early September.
    • The population of Gloucester LGA is 4,877.
    • 94 people, or 1.9% of the population, said that thought they would be able to obtain cheaper/cleaner energy. Well good luck with that. Electricity and gas prices are already soaring, the gas price because of the CSG industry entering into the export arena.
    • 83 people, or 1.7% of the population, said that there would be employment opportunities.
    • 73 people, or 1.5% of the population thought it would bring money into the region.
    • 23 people, or 0.5% of the population, reckoned they would see improved infrastructure. Dreaming.
    ( see all in Gas Watch 229 ).


    Monday, 24 November, 2013. Gas Watch 228. AGL - now pumping salt onto agricultural land.
    Hullo, AGL! A shandy of fresh water and salt water doesn’t reduce the amount of salt going into the soil. The same amount of salt is still there.

    AGL issued a media release last week, crowing that it was irrigating cattle feed crops with salty water from coal seams. AGL says that it is blending good fresh water with salty coal seam water to irrigate its property.
    Salty water used for irrigation results in soil salinisation rendering it unfit for raising most crops and plants. And what does the process of increasing the salt content of soil do to the soil? As the soil salinity increases the consequences include:
    • Destruction of soil structure;
    • Detrimental effects on plant growth and yield. The plants use the water and the salt is left behind;
    • Damage to infrastructure (roads, bricks, corrosion of pipes and cables);
    • Reduction of water quality for users, sedimentation problems;
    • Soil erosion ultimately, when crops are too strongly affected by the amounts of salts.
    ( see all in Gas Watch 228 ).


    Wednesday, 20 November, 2013. Gas Watch 227. AGL - wants land in protected winegrowing regions made available for CSG drilling and fracking.
    Santos - agrees that if a farmer says “no” they will go away.

    Santos CEO David Knox says that it is important for farmers to be given a choice saying that Santos will not be seeking to drill for coal seam methane gas where landholders say “no”.
    “Under this company I operate, if you don’t want me on your land to drill a well, I will not be coming. I will work with farmers who do want me on their land, and I think it’s very important that people are given that choice” he said.
    This Santos approach mirrors announcements by Prime Minister Abbott. We hope that Santos does what it says it will do.
    AGL, however, takes the opposite approach and has forced itself on the farmers of Gloucester through the Courts.
    AGL has also announced that it is seeking that the properties it has bought in the Broke and Bulga wingrowing region be exempted from the protected viticulture Critical Industry Cluster and made available to them for unconventional coal seam methane drilling and fracking. ( see all in Gas Watch 227 ).


    Tuesday, 5 November, 2013. Gas Watch 226. The “Size of the Prize” to become the paramount consideration for mining approvals. This week THE NSW government will implement controversial amendments to planning laws to prioritise economic considerations above all social and environmental factors when considering mining and CSG projects.

    The Resource Significance SEPP, about to be gazetted, has been rejected out of hand by everyone either involved in agriculture or who cares for our environment, and should be rejected out of hand by anybody who wants to have a secure Australian food supply in the future.

    “The changes outline key factors that decision makers must consider when establishing the significance of the mineral resource – namely the benefits that will flow to the economy via local job creation, regional expenditure and State royalties," Minister Hartcher said.

    This is an absolute disgrace. It encourages big mining companies to open cut good agricultural land, without community support; without reference to existing agricultural industries, including wine tourism; without reference to environmental or social considerations; without consideration to existing businesses; without considering basic cost benefit analyses ( see all in Gas Watch 226 ).


    Thursday, 3 October, 2013. Gas Watch 225. AGL claims: “New gas sources needed to maintain price.”
    “This is nothing but industry spin.”
    AGL in a press release today makes more outrageous claims in relation to the coal seam methane gas industry.
    (See Mike Moraza: "New gas sources needed to maintain price" ).

    Amongst other things AGL spins:
    1.“Coal seam gas is literally just natural gas drawn directly from coal seams”

    WRONG. It is methane gas drawn from coal seams, unconventionally and often using the contoversial fracking technique, through fresh water tables. Released into the environment during the process is Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Formaldehyde, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Oxides of Nitrogen, Particulate matter 10 um and 2.5 um, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds.

    Dr Stuart Khan confirmed in a submission to the NSW parliamentary enquiry into CSG that “drilling through aquifers, impervious rock and coal seam(s) risks “interconnecting” otherwise confined aquifers. In such circumstances, aquifers holding large volumes of pristine water can be contaminated by mixing with other contaminated waters.” ( see more in Gas Watch 225 ).


    Friday, 20 September, 2013. Gas Watch 224. AGL attempts to buy community support. AGL should be earning respect, rather than trying to buy it.

    • AGL tried to sponsor the Singleton Outstanding Business Awards, but its sponsorship was rightly rejected by the Chamber of Commerce.

    • AGL tried to sponsor the hugely attended Broke Village Fair, but AGL was roundly rejected by the community and AGL’s cheque returned to them.

    • AGL has somehow bought naming rights for the 2013 Singleton Show this month and it is now, unfortunately, called the “AGL Singleton Show.” A gross embarrassment for the Singleton community.

    • AGL Energy is now offering local primary schools cash donations in its efforts to buy community support….Kirkton Primary and Broke Primary we know of, both in the Hunter Valley, both in the CSG exclusion zones.
    ( see all in Gas Watch 224 ).


    Wednesday, 18 September, 2013. Gas Watch 223. Resource Minister Chris Hartcher wants to change the accurate name “unconventional coal seam methane gas” or “CSG” to “natural gas from coal seams”.
    Great shades of George Orwell’s 1984.

    This is just another O’Farrell Government attempt to dilute the CSG argument and make the CSG industry sound safe.
    It’s the same old industry, the same old CSG, same old risks.
    Is it true – or is it just a joke from the “Ministry of Truth”?

    It is being taken so seriously on Facebook* that it is wondered what other phrases could be changed to improve how they sound, eg:

    • Bank Robbery = inadvertent hostile currency depletion;
    • Car Crash = spontaneous crumple zone evaluation;
    • Coal = natural solid from coal seams;
    • Petrol = natural liquid from oil deposits;
    • Wood = natural solid fuel from old growth heritage forests.
    As one contributor says on Facebook – adding “natural” doesn’t make it safe or its extraction environmentally safe. We agree. ( see all in Gas Watch 223 ).


    Wednesday, 11 September, 2013. Gas Watch 222. Hunter residents are at serious risk of lung disease and cancer as dust levels reach record levels.
    This must be a new record for filthy air in the Hunter.

    The residents of the Hunter were forced to breathe filthy air on 1st September at 3 am when the P10 dust particles in the air reached 348.1 micro grams per cubic meter.
    And we’re effectively unrepresented by a Government which appears to be waiting for victims to emerge before it acts.
    Will you or your children be the first victims? Research says it is only a matter of time. With all the evidence before him, what on earth could Barry O’Farrell say if it does come to this.
    This is a physical assault on the people of the Hunter Valley. 100 is considered by the EPA to be Hazardous to the health of humans and animals. 300 is described by medical professionals as “extremely dangerous to lungs and may even cause cancer induction” ( see all in Gas Watch 222 ).


    Friday, 6 September, 2013. Gas Watch 221. Everyone now agrees it will happen – All that is now needed is for NSW to enact the law preserving the vineyards from coal seam methane mining.

    1. AGL Energy now accepts that CSG activity will be excluded from critical industry clusters.
    2. The community has been promised by the O’Farrell Government that these exclusion zones will be made law, and accept that this will happen.
    3. The Federal coalition says farmers have the right to say “no.
    4. All stakeholders now accept it is going to happen.
    Both the community and AGL are now on the same page in relation to having the vineyard areas excluded from CSG activity.
    AGL Energy accepted in its financial report released this week that the viticulture and thoroughbred Critical Industry Clusters will be excluded from coal seam methane exploration and mining activity, by slashing its Hunter gas project’s book value from over $200 million to just $10 million ( see all in Gas Watch 221 ).


    Tuesday, 27 August, 2013. Gas Watch 220. 100 official “health alerts” for dust levels in the 239 days of this year. For almost half this year the people of the Hunter have been breathing air which is damaging their health.
    Again suspicion arises that the coal mines are polluting in the dead of night.

    Yesterday the wind was light, the dust during the day was within acceptable levels, even into single digits (5.1 micrograms of P10 dust particles per cubic metre at 2 pm). But in the wee small hours the dust levels went from safe levels to “HAZARDOUS” levels.
    3 am – 173.9 micrograms of P10 dust particles per cubic metre (anything over 100 is “hazardous to the health”).
    4 am – 109.6., 5 am – 134.2. !!! ( see all in Gas Watch 220 ).


    Wednesday, 21 August, 2013. Gas Watch 219. Barry O’Farrell’s new “user pays” democracy.
    In an extraordinary move, the man elected to represent the community has instead decided to take them on head first in the Supreme Court, and make them pay for trying to protect the health of themselves, their children and their environment.

    Quite unbelievably, Barry O’Farrell has sent in Minister Brad Hazzard to fight on the side of the mines AGAINST the community. That’s right, AGAINST the community which elected him.

    In his fight against the residents of the Hunter village of Bulga, Premier Barry has asked Minister Brad to seek a Supreme Court costs order* against those good people.

    The people of Bulga took on the mining giant Warkworth Mining (Rio Tinto) in the Land and Environment Court and won, protecting their village from imminent destruction by the dramatic increase in size of the nearby coal mine...

    Premier Barry is sending a clear signal to those trying to protect their own children and the environment against potentially catastrophic health effects by making them pay.

    It is also clear that if you want democratic representation under this Government, be prepared to pay a financial price for the privilege
    ( see all in Gas Watch 219 ).


    Wednesday, 21 August, 2013. Gas Watch 218. "Abbott backs farmers' right to say NO".
    “Miners should not go onto farms if they’re not wanted. It’s very wrong and they shouldn’t be going onto land where the relevant land owners don’t want them.” – Tony Abbott 2/5/13.

    We asked Joel Fitzgibbon and Michael Johnsen: “Whilst we are all aware that the State Governments grant Mining Licences and CSG Licences, how do you see a Federal Government legislating to establish a landholder’s right to ay “no”; how would you define farmland; when in the first term of Government would this take place; any available detail as to how such legislation would operate

    Johnsen based his response on “CSG is seen as a transitional energy source and is proven to be less emitting of carbon dioxide. It is also potentially more efficient”. Unfortunately Johnsen has obviously not considered the science which says that CSG is likely to be a dirtier fuel than coal and that the CSG industry has underestimated methane leakage from wells by 62,000,000 tonnes over 3 years ( ) and that the huge issue of disposal of contaminated water is unresolved.

    Fitzgibbon takes delight in having been wooed by AGL Energy which appears to have convinced him that diluting salt contaminated water and putting that salt contaminated water onto pasture is a good thing. It doesn’t matter how much you dilute it, the salt is still there and must eventually contaminate the ground. This speech was before the knifing of Julia Gillard and before Fitzgibbon was Rudd’s Minister for Agriculture. Perhaps he’s now changed his mind.

    Make up your own mind. Not much comfort from either of them. Fortunately the O’Farrell Government has bound itself to legislating CSG exclusion zones in the Hunter Valley and around residential areas in the State, so any reliance on the Federal Government in our area will be somewhat mitigated. ( see all in Gas Watch 218 ).


    Tuesday, 20 August, 2013. Gas Watch 217. Government fails to issue “HEALTH ALERTS” when dust pollution exceeds hazardous levels.
    What are the coal mines doing in the dead of night?
    Are they failing to use proper dust suppression in the dark when noone can see their filthy haze?
    Look at these OEH monitoring station results over last 24 hours: • Camberwell - 12 midnight - 172.5 micrograms of dust per cubic metre.
    • Maison Dieu near Singleton – 1 pm - 133.4
    • Maison Dieu – 2 pm 119.4 (not below 100 between midnight and 2 am)
    • Mt. Thorley, near Bulga – 10 pm – 92.

    100 micrograms per cubic metre is defined by the Government as “Hazardous”. No health alerts were issued this morning because the “rolling average” didn’t reach dangerous levels, although individual readings were hazardous to the health of humans and animals. That’s now three days and nights in a row we have been breathing in dust which could be doing irreversible damage to our lungs and the developing lungs of our kids.

    Mines should have an automatic shut down procedure when dust levels reach the “poor” level of 50. They must never be allowed to reach the “hazardous” level of over 100.
    Monitoring is just not good enough. Action must be taken NOW to preserve our health
    ( see all in Gas Watch 217 ).


    Sunday, 18 August, 2013. Gas Watch 216. “HEALTH ALERTS” ISSUED FOR THE HUNTER.
    Hunter Valley residents breathe dangerous levels of dust – two days in a row.
    On 17th August and 18th August, 2013 the Department of Environment and Heritage issued “health alerts”.
    The P10 dust levels today reached 60.7 micrograms per cubic metre at 7 am.
    97.8 micrograms per cubic metre was measured yesterday at 6 am – a health hazard.

    The Department says that anything between 75 and 100 is very poor and that 100+ is hazardous to the health.

    The Hunter has reached 300 at times – a level which can damage the lungs and which is cancer inducing.

    And this in an environment where the O’Farrell Government wants tor...( see all in Gas Watch 216 ).


    Friday, 16 August, 2013. Gas Watch 215. Environmentally dangerous mining versus established, clean and responsible farming and tourism.
    AGL Energy seeks to ruin the Hunter Valley wine industry with its unsustainable Coal Seam Methane mining
    Margan Family Wines at Broke in the Hunter takes out Gold for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism and Gold for Excellence in Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Boutique Breweries at Hunter & Central Coast Tourism Awards 2013 this week

    We have the wine industry working successfully at sustainability, and continuing its 200 year old tradition.

    On the other hand we have AGL Energy which has been found to regularly breach its environmental obligations – air pollution; ground pollution; failing to monitor emissions; fail to report; and more.

    Unconventional coal seam methane miners are putting extreme pressure on the O’Farrell Government to give them 21 years of methane extraction from under the vineyards, from which the wine industry, including the wine tourism industry, and the environment may never recover...( see all in Gas Watch 215 ).


    Thursday, 1 August, 2013. Gas Watch 214. All important to the O’Farrell Government and the mining companies is: The size of the prize.
    The “significant of the resource” draft SEPP makes the SIZE OF THE PRIZE the “principal consideration” in granting mining licences for coal or methane gas.
    The bigger the mine the better.
    The more damage done to agriculture, the happier this Government will be.

    Minister Hartcher says this will “improve investor confidence” in the mining industry.

    BUT it will destroy investment and confidence in the agriculture sector.

    This Government, both pre and post election has promised that there will be no coal seam methane gas activity in the vineyards ( see all in Gas Watch 214 ).


    Tuesday, 30 July, 2013. Gas Watch 213. Let Australia starve.
    O’Farrell Government declares coal and methane gas more important than food and water
    Minister Hartcher promotes fossil fuel mining over agriculture.
    Hartcher sells out to the mining industry.
    Let Australia be reliant on other countries to source its food.
    Let mining companies reap their riches.
    That is what this SEPP is saying.

    There is nothing in the Draft Mining and Gas SEPP released yesterday by Minister Hartcher to require a mining proposal to even consider other industries near a “significant resource”. And “significant resource” isn’t even defined. Clearly the mining companies have been in the Government’s ear, and the Government has succumbed to their pressure heralding the end of any security in agriculture. Towns, villages and farms, under this SEPP, must play second fiddle to a “significant resource”. Agricultural industries, including the 200 year old wine industry and its associated tourist industry, face extinction ( see all in Gas Watch 213 ).


    Thursday, 25 July, 2013. Gas Watch 212. Mining Industry claims of co-existence rebutted by Bulga Coal.
    Bulga Coal’s own Environmental Impact Statement contradicts the official advertising blitz of “World Class Miners” and the Minerals Council

    “World Class Miners” and the Minerals Council loosely claim that “research (unquoted) and the experience of Bob (Kennedy) and other grape growers (unidentified) shows that it is possible for mining and farming to work together”.
    1. Bulga Coal disagrees.
    2. Xstrata says that not all mining and agricultural relationships work.
    ( see all in Gas Watch 212 ).


    Tuesday, 23 July, 2013. Gas Watch 211. Xstrata hides behind the Minerals Council’s false, deceptive and misleading advertising.

    Xstrata admits that not all mining/agriculture relationships work.

    Withdraw merely the headline of the current official advertising Blitz where it is claimed that Xstrata’s Bulga Underground coal mine is “now producing wine” we asked Glencore Xstrata. The headline is, of course, a lie. The mine is producing coal. The vineyard above the mine is producing grapes.

    The headline of this political advertisement is both false, deceptive and misleading – we told Xstrata. We asked for confirmation that it wouldn’t be used again. Xstrata responded to say that they had a good working relationship with one specific neighbouring vineyard owner, but “There is no suggestion that these experiences reflect all relationships between mining and other land users” ( see all in Gas Watch 211 ).


    Monday, 22 July, 2013. Gas Watch 210. Mining industry hits new low: Major official ad campaign based on lies and politics.

    A little known group called “World Class Miners” has co-opted an even lesser known grape grower in the Hunter Valley in a failed attempt to show that grape growing and coal mining can co-exist.

    A major official advertising blitz in all media, including major national press, social media and more, has clearly been timed to coincide with the hearing of the appeal by Rio Tinto against the decision of the Land & Environment Court to save the town of Bulga from destruction by open cut mine extensions.

    The advertising blitz – no doubt costing tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars - is peppered with lies and omissions and highlights the desperate measures being undertaken by the Mining Industry in its fight against the community
    ( see all in Gas Watch 210 ).


    Tuesday, 9 July, 2013. USA: Fugitive Gases in Water Wells Near Shale Gas Sites
    This new American scientific study casts considerable doubts on the universal assertions of the gas industry that large scale hydraulic fracturing cannot contaminate surface fresh water aquifers. The industry says that the surface water and their gas production fracking zones are separated by hundreds of meters of "impenetrable" geological strata. Any contamination of the drinking water by fugitive gasses or toxic fracking chemicals is, therefore, impossible.
    It should be noted that this study analysed the results from the Pennsylvanian shale gas deposits which are typically located in the depths of several kilometers. Australian coal seam gas strata are usually only several hundred meters deep and thus the chance of the biosphere contamination is much greater. THOSE IMPENETRABLE BARRIERS MAY NOT BE SO IMPENETRABLE AFTER ALL! ( see more in our Research Archives ).

    Friday, 5 July, 2013. Gas Watch 209. AGL’s “gas supply crisis” simply a lot of hot air.
    AGL’s efforts to scare the O'Farrell Govt into relaxing CSG laws revealed by The Australia Institute to be nonsense..

    Senior economist at The Australia Institute, Matt Grudnoff, says in relation to proposed increases in wholesale gas prices, that:

    - “the increase is linked to plans to sell gas from eastern Australia overseas.”

    - “It’s not the lack of supply that is going to drive up gas prices. It’s the introduction of CSG as a new form of supply.”

    - “Many in the gas industry would like us to believe that public opposition to CSG is the reason for the impending price increases. But it’s the determination of the gas industry to sell to the highest bidder.”

    ( see all in Gas Watch 209 ).


    Thursday, 4 July, 2013. Gas Watch 208. O'Farrell Govt “endorses” CSG exclusions in February ... now sits on its hands !!
    Despite cabinet "endorsing" the exclusion of important zones from coal seam gas activity nearly six months ago, it has failed to act on its promise.

    The Hunter's been waiting long enough and needs to get back to business, and the only way is to put pressure back onto the Government to come good and start acting on behalf of the community, not big mining companies ( see all in Gas Watch 208 ).


    Friday, 28 June, 2013. Gas Watch 207. O’Farrell snubs community but gets cosy with AGL.
    The Premier of NSW has openly snubbed urgent requests for community discussions, but within hours of news being released is happy to privately meet with multinational corporates such as AGL, who are trying to profit from changes to CSG laws.

    Within a few days of the Premier announcing exclusion zones from CSG mining, the head of AGL was sitting in the Premier’s office to talk about it. We, the community, have been trying to speak directly with the Premier ever since. On 31st May the Premier’s secretary wrote and told us that the Premier has “declined our meeting request” – refused to see us ( see all in Gas Watch 207 ).


    Tuesday, 11 June, 2013. Gas Watch 206. Government sides against community to rush through legislation by stealth.
    Important amendments to CSG law were stealthily rushed through and passed without amendment in less than a week in a move that signals the Government is now unashamedly in bed with the CSG mining lobby – and actively against its electors and the community.

    On 22nd May, 2013, Minister Hartcher introduced CSG law amendments. It was pushed through and passed without amendment on 28th May. Some sort of a record??
    Minister Hartcher’s second reading speech could well have been written by the coal seam methane miners *.
    Why has the Government been covert in passing this legislation?
    Why was the CSG mining industry consulted, but not the community?

    The Government has clearly been brainwashed by the CSG industry. The CSG industry has been able to readily access Premier O’Farrell, but despite representations through local member George Souris, the community has been denied equal time.

    The Government wants no debate on what is arguably the most contentious industry in the country – coal seam methane gas mining.

    The opportunity for the Government to enshrine into law its pre-election promises to permanently protect critical industries and environmentally sensitive areas has been lost.

    The proposed new Petroleum (Onshore) Act concentrates on convincing us that the CSG industry will be punished for breaches, but omits to address important issues ( see all in Gas Watch 206 ).


    Friday, 26 April, 2013. Gas Watch 205. Confusion over Interim Coal Seam Gas Protocol.
    This week the NSW Government issued its Interim Protocol that appeared to provide for removal of some land from the promised CSG exclusion zones.

    Whilst the wording of the protocol is very confusing, when read with the announcements of Premier O’Farrell, and others, it appears abundantly clear:
    • that there will be no interference with the Critical Industry Clusters – neither equine nor viticulture;
    • that there will be no lands within those clusters excised from exclusion;
    • that there will be no “swiss cheese” approach to the current critical Industry Cluster mapping.

    “A two kilometre exclusion zone will be imposed around residential zones to prevent new CSG exploration, assessment and production activities (both surface and underground); Exclusion zones will apply to identified Critical Industry Clusters – viticulture and the equine industry”. “These exclusion zones will apply to any CSG activity that has not yet been approved under the EP&A Act or the Petroleum (Onshore) Act.”– Barry O‘Farrell Media Release 19/2/2013.

    But are these exclusions for real ( see all in Gas Watch 205 )?


    Friday, 12 April, 2013. Gas Watch 204 AGL’s claim of a “gas supply crisis” is nonsense.
    Just another desperate attempt by AGL to panic the people and the Government into accepting that this filthy, fossil fuel is necessary.
    What gas supply “crisis?
    See Gas Watch 204

    Australia is exporting gas in almost identical amounts to the Country’s actual consumption. There’s oodles there for everybody. Australia’s consumption has been dropping since 2007 and is back to 2004 levels. And don’t think that the export won’t continue. That is where this CSG will go, and that is where the money is for these coal seam methane miners.

    AGL is treating us all, people, local Government and State Government with the utmost contempt, attempting to fool us into believing that there is this “gas supply crisis”, a phrase they have only recently manufactured.

    And as recently as today AGL has announced in the local press further drilling in the proposed vineyard critical industry cluster exclusion zone. The methane miners simply can’t be trusted with the truth ( see all in Gas Watch 204 ).


    Friday, 12 April, 2013. Gas Watch 203. Hunter Valley Council continues strong support of its community against the CSG mining in the Singleton Shire.
    AGL, claimed at this week’s CSG Industry Conference that there is a “gas supply crisis” – a new phrase made up by APPEA in only February of this year.

    Clearly AGL has failed in its efforts to produce evidence to the community and all levels of Government that CSG mining is safe, and is thus trying a new tack to panic the O’Farrell Government into reversing its decision to protect residential zones and to protect critical agricultural and associated industries from the ravages of coal seam methane mining.

    This of course flies in the face of the real facts, and that is that there is plenty of gas available for NSW. Just ask BHP! And of course, there appears to be no doubt that much of any mined coal seam methane will be exported. ( see all in Gas Watch 203 ).


    Monday, 8 April, 2013. Gas Watch 202. Hunter Valley Council continues strong support of its community against the CSG mining in the Singleton Shire.
    AGL ignores Community, local Council and State Government and keeps on drilling
    “There appears to be evidence that (environmental) impact could be significant and irreversible.”
    “There appears to be serious risk of significant environmental impacts”

    These statements, made in a report to Singleton Council, were adopted by the Council tonight when it debated the content of its submission to the Government in response to the Draft State Environmental Plan setting out the coal seam gas exclusion zones.
    “Councils are specifically requested to identify villages which meet the defined village criteria so they can be included as residential land” and therefore fall within the exclusion zones contemplated by the SEPP ( see all in Gas Watch 202 ).


    Tuesday, 2 April, 2013. Gas Watch 201. AGL fails to follow other coal seam methane miners in saving their shareholders’ money.

    Based on “market conditions and shareholder feedback”, Dart Energy has announced to the Stock Exchange that it will suspend field operations in relation to CSG in NSW, including that at Fullerton Cove, where Dart Energy recently had a win in the Land and Environment Court against the Fullerton Cove community.

    Another methane miner, Metagasco, has suspended its coal seam methane drilling in the northern rivers. Metagasco CEO said he “could not keep spending shareholders' money in the current political climate”.

    These companies have clearly made their decision, notwithstanding that they are not operating in a Critical Industry Cluster exclusion area, in the interests of their respective shareholders.

    AGL is operating in a CSG exclusion zone, but in its usual display of arrogance continues to drill through the fresh water aquifers into unknown geological formations below with all the attendant risks. ( see all in Gas Watch 201 ).


    Tuesday, 2 April, 2013. Gas Watch 200. AGL takes another step in its destruction of the Hunter Valley.

    A photograph of the drilling site at Yellow Rock(below) near the Hunter Valley vineyard village ofBroke, shows the first step in what AGL plan s to be a spiderweb of roads, pipes, drilling pads and coal seam methane wells in the vineyards of the Hunter Valley.

    And AGL is just about to commence similar drilling at a nearbysite which has clearly not been adequately geologically researched. The approving Department merely accepts the unsubstantiated, one paragraph of claims by AGL that it is unlikely there will be any problems, instead of requiring thorough independent geological examination.

    For example, under AGL’s next drilling site there is complex geology, including a well known fault in the earth’s crust called the “Redmanvale Fault”, under which there was a 2.8 earthqua ke in April,last year, and over which there is a substantial fresh water aquifer ... ( see all in Gas Watch 200 ).




    There is no end to the despicable depths to which AGL Energy will stoop. Parents should be urged not to allow AGL’s spin doctors to play with our children’s fertile minds. Fast food companies and all other contentious advertising are subject to significant regulation when it comes to schools. This is the most cynical form of advertising possible, as it is being done by stealth.

    AGL just brought 120 children by bus from Muswellbrook High school, during school hours, to look at its drilling rig at Broke, brainwashing them with AGL propaganda that a coal seam methane well is just an insignificant piece of machinery that won’t hurt the environment, our waterways, our health, our productive soil, our lifestyles and our property values. Proven lies. ( see all in Gas Watch 199 ). See alse a copy of a report in the Newcastle Herald.



    Today, AGL said they had not even read the public consultation draft. In an extraordinary, but predictable, display of ignorance and arrogance, AGL called a meeting today to discuss their CSG drilling in the Hunter Vineyards, revealing that they hadn’t even read the public consultation draft SEPP banning CSG in the vineyards. “Haven’t had time” said the AGL Community Relations person, Alison Croker. Astonishing! Probably the most important document that has ever been published in relation to AGL’s coal seam methane drilling in the Hunter, and they hadn’t made the time to read it...( see all in Gas Watch 198 ).


    Monday, 4 March, 2013. Gas Watch 197. AGL: "We own it (the land), so could we drill on it?”

    In another display of arrogance and complete disregard for the local community, AGL is reported to have asked today: “We own it (the land), so could we drill on it?”

    Well, according to the O’Farrell announcements, the answer is a resounding “No”. The community of the Hunter Valley does not want AGL setting up gas fields and has been actively opposing this since 2004. It’s time AGL faced up to its lack of support by both the community and now the Government, and just went away from the Hunter.

    The O’Farrell Government is to be applauded for listening to the community and for taking steps to save the environment and the iconic vineyards of the Hunter Valley, honouring its pre-election promises.

    The community is so opposed to AGL turning the Hunter Valley into a gas field that AGL has had to buy large tracts of land in the Broke and Bulga vineyard areas because landholders won’t give them access to their land. ( see all in Gas Watch 197 ).



    “AGL intends to continue with its exploration activities, including drilling a number of core holes on AGL owned property and private land in the Broke and Bulga area, for which approvals are in place.” – so says the Community Relations Manager – Hunter (Alison Crocker – email 26/2/2013).

    AGL has elected to completely ignore Premier O’Farrell’s announcements. You would think that AGL’s methane mining arm would have great difficulty in justifying this behaviour to its Board and its Shareholders.

    Premier O’Farrell made it very clear in his recent Press Release that “Critical Industry Clusters identified under the Strategic Regional Land Use Plans – horse breeders and wine producers will also be excluded from CSG activities”.

    George Souris, Member for the Upper Hunter has also made it very clear: “There won't be CSG development where no DA's have been approved, effectively taking out viticulture and equine CICs and 2km from residential zoning.” ( see all in Gas Watch 196 ).


    Monday, 25 February, 2013. Gas Watch 195. AGL takes on the Government. AGL has clearly refused to accept Premier O’Farrell’s exclusion of the Hunter Vineyards from CSG exploration. And continues its drilling program.

    AGL today sent out invitations to “small, by-invite-only gatherings” to “peek” at “one of our operational sites” in Broke. What is it that AGL doesn’t get?

    Premier O’Farrell has made it clear now, on more than one occasion, that no CSG projects will be approved in the winegrowing/tourism Critical Industry Cluster in the Hunter Valley. The Premier has made it abundantly clear that Broke, in particular, will be saved. This has been confirmed by Member for the Upper Hunter, George Souris.

    AGL has no social licence to operate in the Broke and Bulga communities. ( see all in Gas Watch 195 ).


    Monday, 25 February, 2013. Gas Watch 194. AGL attempts to create gas price panic.

    AGL, clutching at straws and claiming a possible increase in gas prices in the future, tries to panic the NSW Government into reversing its decision to exclude sensitive areas from CGS extraction. The Australian Petroleum Production and Export Association, APPEA, has weighed in with similar panic statements such as the newly made up phrase - “gas supply crisis”.

    Will these people stop at nothing to keep their share price up at huge environmental cost? They claim that the cost of gas will rise because we will have to import it from interstate. Give us a break. 95% of our gas comes from interstate now, so how is there going to be a price effect? And you can rest assured that the majority of coal seam methane sucked out by the CSG miners will go straight overseas. ( see all in Gas Watch 194 ).

    Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism industry excluded from Community Consultation Committee.

    No representative of Hunter Wines or Tourism will be permitted to attend the next Hunter Community Consultative Committee meeting.

    This is a Committee set up to facilitate consultation between AGL and the local community. The regular representative gave the chair some weeks notice that he couldn’t attend the March meeting and asked that a substitute attend on his behalf. The Chair, who has a discretion to allow observers and guests to attend and either take part in the meeting or not, has refused. ( see all in Gas Watch 194 ).


    Tuesday, 19 February, 2013. Gas Watch 193. Hunter Wine Industry applauds exclusion of Hunter Wine Country from coal seam gas activity.

    Today’s announcement by the O’Farrell Government that the Hunter Vineyards are to be excluded from CSG activities honours the pre-election promises of the O’Farrell Government, and was received warmly by the people of the Hunter.

    The devil is always in the detail, however, and we await expectantly for that detail. The exclusion area is shown in the Strategic Land Use Plan entitled “Strategic Agricultural Lands (Viticulture)” and you can find a copy of the map at

    What we now require is to take this from being announcements to being LAW. Not a simple State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) but law – strong, irrevocable legislation similar to the Character Preservation (McLaren Vale) and (Barossa Valley) Acts in South Australia.

    And we need that law to be in place before the Federal election on 14th September, 2013, or it may never happen( see all in Gas Watch 193 ).


    Monday, 18 February, 2013. Gas Watch 192. HUNTER VALLEY COUNCIL REJECTS COAL SEAM METHANE GAS..

    Tonight, Singleton Council unanimously rejected an application by AGL Energy to access Council road reserves for its coal seam methane exploration.

    The packed public gallery burst into applause when Councillors resolved not only to refuse AGL’s access to road reserves for seismic CSG exploration, but to reaffirm Council’s objection to all CSG activities in the Singleton LGA.

    In yet another display of arrogance, AGL didn’t even turn up to support their application, notice of which they not give to the community

    ( see all in Gas Watch 192 ).


    Wednesday, 13 February, 2013. Gas Watch 191. AGL to risk 200 years of sustainable industry, and its future, for less than 5 years methane extraction.

    AGL would produce coal seam methane in the Hunter for a mere 4.73 years.

    That’s the big prize for risking the fragile environment of the Hunter forever.

    And the Government has washed its hands of all responsibility. During those 4.73 years the Hunter Valley Wine Industry could be devastated, wiped out, through fresh water contamination and the salt contamination of the highly productive soil from disposal of contaminated coal seam water.

    The Hunter Valley Wine Industry is a sustainable industry with nearly 200 years of history, with another 200 years or more left in it, and attracts a burgeoning tourism industry. AGL today boasts that there are probable reserves of 669 petajoules of methane at Gloucester and “just” 142Pj in the Hunter Valley, and that it would produce about 30Pj per year.

    Well, let’s do the sums. If, and that’s a big if, there is 142Pj in the Hunter, then the coal seam methane in the Hunter will be finished in 4.73 years ( see all in Gas Watch 191 ).


    Tuesday, 12 February, 2013. Gas Watch 190. Just when you thought the Federal Government had grown an environmental backbone – it approves the Gloucester CSG project!.

    One day Federal Environment Minister Burke slams the O’Farrell Government for its slack approach to CSG.

    The next day Burke aids and abets AGL in its environmental destruction of prime agricultural land around Gloucester – although today Burke described his approval as a “Clayton’s approval”, an approval you give when you are not really giving an approval?? Looks like he has done this simply to punish the O’Farrell Government for its slack environmental laws in relation to CSG.

    The GM of Methane Mining for AGL, Mike Moraza, gave evidence before a Senate enquiry that AGL would not force entry onto any land: “There is a lot of country out there that can be explored and we would move on.” (Hansard) – yet in complete opposition to that evidence AGL has now been successful in Court, forcing 110 gas wells on the people of Gloucester.

    But the likes of AGL never reveal the final scope of their whole CSG project. Who knows, we could end up with thousands of wells anywhere from Merriwa to Newcastle ( see all in Gas Watch 190 ).



    This Company HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ACTIVE THAN IT IS, NOW, IN THE HUNTER VALLEY, and is ramping up to launch its fracking in the region.

    IS IT ALREADY TOO LATE TO SAVE THE HUNTER WINE INDUSTRY, with fracking exploration wells in the vineyards about to commence? ( see all in Gas Watch 189 ).



    The NSW Government has drafted laws which give no effective protection to even one square metre of this State, and which fly in the face of the recommendations of its own Stakeholder Reference Group.

    As a result AGL Energy has already announced that this year it will be fracking coal seams in the Hunter Valley vineyards, even though it is concerned with the fracking technique it appears to now have abandoned in its Camden Gas fields.

    This month AGL is drilling core holes through fresh water aquifers and hundreds of metres down into the salty, contaminated coal seams below, risking the fresh water of the Hunter Valley.

    “The O’Farrell Government seems either incompetent, or unwilling, to properly address the effective control of the CSG industry and refuses to accept that CSG extraction and sustainable agriculture cannot co-exist.” said Stewart Ewen, the Chair of the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance ( see all in Gas Watch 188 ).


    Sunday, 27 January, 2013. Gas Watch 187. AGL – HAVE THEY OVERSTEPPED THE LINE BETWEEN SPINNING & LYING?

    An AGL company mouthpiece went on record last week complaining that this Alliance broadcast “misinformation” and that we had never produced one fact to support any of our allegations about the behaviour of AGL in its coal seam methane mining activities.

    So here we go again. Wouldn’t it be much more simple for them to admit they have breached some conditions in the past and perhaps say what they are doing to prevent them in the future. But no, we have to waste our time digging out the facts that they deny ever happened. Here, just briefly, are just some of those facts again:

    FACT 1. During August, 2010 AGL, in the course of its exploration for coal seam methane in the Hunter, AGL dumped an alleged 300,000 litres of salty contaminated water onto pasture, killing the pasture. AGL admitted to 110,000 litres, and was ordered to remediate the site. The NSW Ombudsman said: “it appears to me that AGL breached their licence conditions by discharging the contaminated water” (NSW Ombudsman ref: C/2010/7463).

    FACT 2. In July, 2011 AGL was issued with a “formal warning” by the Government following a blowout of a methane well near Campbelltown caused by incorrect operation of the well.

    FACT 3. AGL failed “to comply with the Licence conditions in both of its Petroleum Exploration Licences affecting the Hunter Valley Wine Country (Report on Audit of Coal and Petroleum Exploration Licences in NSW – Phase 2).

    ( see all in Gas Watch 187 ).



    When will the O’Farrell Government and the Minister for Tourism and Member for the Upper Hunter, George Souris, realise that they must protect the world acclaimed Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism industry from disappearing into a coal seam methane gas field, and work with the local wine and food producers rather than against them?

    When will AGL Energy see the light and realise that the Hunter Valley cannot afford the health and environmental risks of developing a coal seam methane gas field in the vineyards?

    South Australia is proud of their new laws protecting the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. O’Farrell and Souris must be ashamed of their own treatment of the Hunter Valley as a fossil fuel quarry ( see all in Gas Watch 186 ).


    Thursday, 17 January, 2013. Gas Watch 185. AGL Energy’s fraccing about turn in Sydney doesn’t surprise the Hunter Valley community.

    It’s typical of AGL’s treatment of the general public in the Hunter where AGL is clearly experimenting with coal seam methane exploration and using the Hunter as its guinea pig.

    AGL, which has announced that it will be fraccing coal seams in the vineyard area of the Hunter Valley during 2013, declared at a local public meeting that it would not drill for coal seam methane in the Milbrodale Valley in the Hunter because that area was affected by the Bulga-Inlet fault line, a serious and well documented fault line.

    But, predictably, AGL has now changed its mind and has obtained approval to drill a core hole in Milbrodale, stating in its Review of Environmental Factors that it “can safely drill within 200 metres of the Bulga-Inlet fault line”. No scientific support for this from any geologist. AGL has simply changed its mind and convinced the Government that it must have been wrong when it earlier accepted the dangers of drilling in the Milbrodale Valley ( see all in Gas Watch 185 ).


    Sunday, 13 January, 2013. Gas Watch 184. AGL Energy’s feeble and failed attempt at preparing the newly required Agricultural Impact Statement makes a mockery of the Government’s recently claimed protection of strategic agricultural land.

    AGL lodged an “Agricultural Impact Statement” with the State Government, as it is required to do, in support of its application for approval to drill through the upper fresh water aquifers into the coal seam a kilometre or so under the earth’s crust.

    These Agricultural Impact Statements are now a requirement, so that the Government can see what impact coal seam methane miners will have on existing agriculture. But there is no point in anyone preparing one at all if they aren’t accurate.

    AGL’s Agricultural Impact Statement (AIS) supporting its drilling at Milbrodale in the Hunter Valley is so flawed as to be useless. AGL is just ticking the boxes rather than having a serious attempt at identifying impacts on existing agriculture. The Manager of AGL’s coal seam methane mining said he didn’t even know that there was an organic vineyard within 500 metres of the drilling site.

    On 31st December, 2012 we wrote to the Minister regarding the quality of the AIS asking that the approval for the drilling be stayed until the AIS addresses all agricultural issues. We have had no response. A copy of our letter can be found at The Government is probably asking AGL what it wants them to say ( see all in Gas Watch 184 ).


    Thursday 10 January, 2013. Gas Watch 183. AGL Energy’s contribution to the Hunter Valley during 2012 – Happy New Year.

    Of course there’s plenty more than that which is set out below, but thanks AGL for ruining our 2012, for ruining our Hunter Valley, for ruining our environment, for ruining our beautiful area, for ruining our property values and our businesses, and for ruining our rural lifestyles.

    We just hope when it comes around for AGL to seek production licences that the Government lives up to its firm promises and saves the Hunter from your pillaging. Here’s some of AGL’s contribution to the Hunter Valley during 2012: ( see all in Gas Watch 183 ).


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