Phone: 0428439586,
John C. Thomson - Executive Officer

Recent Images

AGL PROTEST, 21 October, 2010.

LAND DEGRADATION BY AGL'S COAL SEAM GAS EXPLORATION HAS STARTED!

We had a successful second screening od GASLAND at Broke Hall on Saturday,28 August, 2010. For further information go to http://tinyurl.com/HVPA-gasland.

AGL DRILLING AGAIN! Photo taken on 16 th March, 2010 at Spring Mountain Vineyard, just near the vineyard village of Broke

AGL Energy wants to drill for coal seam methane gas
this close
to the township of Broke in the Hunter Valley

Sydney Gas is prepared to flare methane gas test wells less then 300 meters from the Broke primary school!

Sydney Gas: "OK Let's negotiate! Where Would you like me to kick you?"

Members of HVPA protest against the waste of Singleton water by Sydney Gas (7 June, 2007 just before floods)

Click on the image of Todd Butler from Canada and listen to his Coalbed Methane Blues

 

 

Community Protest Against Coal Seam Gas in Sydney St. Peters on 19th of December, 2010.

John C. Thomson, HVPA Executive Officer , presents our case.

1910 was the Year of Gasland - What have we achieved?

  • We have established Hunter Valley Protection Alliance presence on Facebook. Now you can get all your news and express your views in real time (see tutorial on how to get your Facbook account).
  • We have helped to bring and popularise Josh Fox's Gasland in Australia. Most people threatened by th out-of-control coal seam gas industry have already seen the film CSG industry cannot sneak into new areas any longer!
  • We have documented a toxic waste water spill at the AGL's Windermere farm and demonstrated that no government organisation is able or willing to take a responsible action.
  • We have hosted the Whispering Brook conference attended by delegates from over fourty environmental citizen's groups that oppose uncontrolled expansion of the coal and gas export industries. This group now operates a very active Lock the Gate Alliance Facebook Group and website. Experience of our Queensland friends shows that we cannot rely on the official regulators to protect our rights

News Headlines

Thursday, 30 December, 2010. Gas Watch 98. Community Contribution by AGL Energy during 2010.
• Deliberately and intentionally dumped an admitted 120,000 litres of contaminated water onto pasture land, killing the vegetation. Department ordered rehabilitation. Ombudsman and Auditor-General currently reviewing the Departmental investigation. Eyewitnesses say that the real contamination could have been over 300,000 litres. Either way, an act of environmental vandalism still under investigation, and this is only the exploration phase.

• Reported this organization to the Police, so AGL claims, as a result of bringing to the notice of the community and the regulators this dumping of contaminated water.

• Failed to vote to support the continuation of the Broke Bulga Community Consultative Committee, dissolved by Minister Whan, calling the CCC an “activist group”. Did not divulge whether or not they had made any representations to the Government regarding the dissolution of the CCC... (read all in Gas Watch 98 ).

 

Tuesday, 30 November, 2010. Gas Watch 97. Minister Whan dissolves successful Community Consultative Committee – perpetuates sacrifice of the Hunter Valley to the fossil fuel industry.
Minister Whan has, by a stroke of the pen yesterday, without any community consultation, dissolved the Broke Bulga Methane Gas Exploration Community Consultative Committee. This was a committee seen as essential to community consultation by former Minister Macdonald to ensure proper communication and consultation between Coal Seam Gas explorers AGL Energy and the affected community, but clearly now seen by Minister Whan as useless.
This Committee has been one of the success stories of Community Consultative Committees, keeping AGL Energy as honest as is possible, and instigating initiatives in relation to water monitoring and mapping. Why would the Minister pull the plug on this Committee and leave the other 7 committees intact? What was AGL Energy’s involvement in the dissolution of this Committee? ... (read all in Gas Watch 97 ).

 

Tuesday, 30 November, 2010. CCC. Community Consultative Committee for Bulga/Broke disbanded<...>> In what can only be described as a very extraordinary move today, the Minister for Primary Industries, Steven Whan announced the disbanding of the CCC covering the Broke Valley in terms of AGL, s activities in exploring for Methane Gas. This surprise action comes at a time of critical review and shows the degree of chaos within the existing Government. The community members of the CCC are dismayed and outraged at the decision, as Councillor Howlett stated today ‘’ it is the price paid for the community being successful operating within a CCC’’ The HVPA committee will review the situation and report back to members as to how we deal with this situation. Please read the attached letter and respond to John Thomson in regard to communicating with the Minister in regard to this decision.
Thanks Stewart Ewen (read all here ).

This shows what is the real value of Community Consultative Committees for the NSW Government - to provide an illusion of a community engagement. If a CCC really fights for their community they are disbanded and a new CCC filled with YES-man appointed. CCC members should be elected locally and not appointed from above. This is why environmental protection in NSW does not work well.

 

Saturday, 23 October, 2010. Gas Watch 96. Federal Government betrays Queensland. “It has consumed us” - the people of the Surat Basin. Whilst we, here in the Hunter Valley, have been patting ourselves on the back with the success of our rally against Coal Seam Methane Gas exploration and extraction, the Federal Government has given the Coal Seam Methane Gas projects in Queensland the go ahead. Takes the wind out of your sails. Shows you that Governments will do as they like at the whim of the fossil fuel industry without thought for the people, the future or the environment ... (read all in Gas Watch 96 ). This Gas Watch was inspired by an email from Brian Monk from the Surat Basin. You can find the full text of Brian's message here.

 

Saturday, 23 October, 2010. Gas Watch 95. GAS WATCH 95. “We sell products that can kill people” – AGL Chairman – 21st October, 2010. The Chairman of AGL Energy made this announcement at the Annual General Meeting of that Company on 21st October.

“Since 1837 we have been selling lethal products. We sell products that can kill people – gas and electricity. And we don’t kill people.”

Perhaps we’ll give him a bit of licence there, although he does appear to have ignored those who have been electrocuted, and those who have died from inhaling gas or from gaseous explosion. But, out of the mouth of its Chairman, AGL Energy couldn’t have come a better reason to support a moratorium on Coal Seam Methane Gas exploration and to support a full investigation or Commission into the Coal Seam Methane Gas industry. The current “gold rush” into this industry by cowboys who have little knowledge of what the end result might be to the environment, to our water, to our fellow human beings, to our livelihoods, to our food production, must be investigated before the AGLs of the world go too far; before it is too late ( Gas Watch 95 in PDF format ).

 

Saturday, 23 October, 2010. Gas Watch 94. AGL ENERGY dumps contaminated water –then calls the Police because we found out. AGL Energy AGL Energy have admitted to dumping 120,000 of saline water onto pasture land. Why they did it we’ll never know. They had already sent 280,000 of the same water away to a water treatment facility, but just decided, it seems, to dump the rest onto good pasture land. Were they trying to save money? Who knows? And there’s no point in asking AGL. And, by the way, we say it was a lot more than 120,000 litres.

The pasture was killed. The Department of Industry & Investment conducted a cursory enquiry; refused to interview those who witnessed this act of environmental vandalism; accepted AGL’s word that it wasn’t too bad; ordered AGL to rehabilitate the contaminated area; and everyone thought that was that. Well, not quite.

Firstly AGL is so cross that their inexcusable behaviour was discovered that they believe somebody must have trespassed onto their property. So AGL has written to the Community saying that they have “referred this incident to the NSW Police for their investigation.” That should do wonders for their community consultation, if there ever was any. “We’ll get the Police onto the community, that’ll sort them out; show them who’s boss” they must have thought.

Secondly, our Alliance has referred the Department’s inadequate enquiry to the Auditor-General and the NSW Ombudsman for investigation. The likes of AGL should not get away with this. That’s how it starts ( Gas Watch 94 in PDF format ).

 

Tuesday, 19 October, 2010. COMMUNITY PROTEST AGAINST AGL'S HUNTER GAS EXPLORATION PROJECTS.

WEDNESDAY 20th OCTOBER: 6 PM BROKE HALL - PREPARATION FOR COMMUNITY PROTEST

4-Corners ABC in Broke to film preparation for Community Protest.  BBQ included!!!
WE NEED AS MANY AS POSSIBLE TO ATTEND - PLEASE MAKE THE EFFORT TO BE THERE


THURSDAY 21st OCTOBER: COMMUNITY PROTEST AT ANGEL PLACE, SYDNEY CBD

Bus leaves 6:15 am SHARP from Broke Village Store (NO CHARGE).  Pickup at Information Centre next to Cessnock Airport 6:45 am.  Arrive Martin Place 9:15 - 9:30 am.  Return after protest.  Sorry, no other pickup points.

4-Corners ABC will film bus departure, trip and protest.

IF YOU CAN MAKE IT, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ATTEND!  
WE NEED MEDIA ATTENTION AND THE MEDIA LOVE NUMBERS!!

This is a fully permitted protest - registered with NSW Police - see letter which explains exactly what we can and can't do during the protest.

 

Friday, 10 September, 2010. Gas Watch 92. Liberal/National or Labor? Who will protect the Upper Hunter? AGL Energy has admitted to deliberately and intentionally pumping over 100,000 litres of saline water onto prime agricultural land. It knew full well the polluted water could sterilize the land and potentially run into the Hunter River. It admitted it only after being caught. Photographs taken of the pollution incident clearly showing the scummy water, the pumping, the live & dead pasture and leaky pipes bound only with duct tape can be viewed at at this page.

Eyewitnesses of the pollution incident claim they observed 300,000 to 500,000 litres of polluted water being dumped on open & fertile pasture. It appears that the eyewitnesses are right. The polluted water killed all vegetation it touched and turned the area black.

This was an act of environmental vandalism, not an accidental spill (read all in Gas Watch 92 ).

 

Tuesday, 17-August-2010. AGL Coal Seam Gas exploration at Denman run into difficulties. Advise has been received that AGL have been forced to cancel exploratory Gas wells in Denman as the land owners they were depending on have cancelled the access agreements ! We are making real progress…..

 

Friday, 30 July, 2010. Gas Watch 91.
AGL ENERGY AWARDED GREEN GLOBE AWARDS – by NSW Government (see here).

Hypocritical Joke?
NO.
AGL Energy should be ashamed to accept these awards.

The NSW Government should be ashamed to have bestowed these awards and the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change should revoke them. The NSW Government has awarded two Green Globe Awards to AGL Energy, as it aids and abets the sacrifice of the beauty, the agriculture, the health and the environment of the Upper Hunter Valley to the CSG fossil fuel industry.
Anyone who has earned such awards in the past, has had the worth of those awards undermined by this disgraceful act by the State Government. (read all in Gas Watch 91 ).

 

Friday, 23 July, 2010. Gas Watch 90. Liberal/National or Labor? Who will protect the Upper Hunter? The Hunter Valley Protection Alliance, the Singleton Council, community groups, local doctors and the people of the Hunter Valley want to know the answer to this question.We currently have next to no protection from the invasion of the fossil fuel industry in the Hunter Valley and the sacrifice by the Government of the beauty of the Hunter Valley to the fossil fuel industry. (read all in Gas Watch 90 ).

 

Sunday, 11-July-2010. RESPONSE TO AGL HUNTER VALLEY GAS PROJECT UPDATEDATED JULY 7, 2010 AGL has prepared a newsletter style update on its Hunter Valley Gas Project. It was delivered via email to select contacts at Industry and Investment NSW, Singleton Council and the Bulga Community Consultative Committee (BCCC). It was also dropped off in printed format to a number of residential households of Broke. It is also understood that it was to be posted on community notice boards at the Broke and Bulga stores.

The newsletter is rife with incomplete and inaccurate information. It does little to raise awareness to the issues of complaint that have been made by a number of local residents due to the noise from the AGL’s Broke exploration wells bordering the local community. Further, it does not answer the many questions raised about AGL's plans for this and its other sites (read more in pdf document).

 

Monday, 5 July, 2010. Gas Watch 89. AGL Energy – Access to your property.
AGL Energy has a Petroleum Exploration Lease over land surrounding Broke and Bulga (except the coal mining leases), including over the Broke and Bulga villages.

AGL will knock on your door, tell you they have the lease and that they want onto your land. During their exploration phase, AGL cannot come onto your land without your written consent in the form of an Access Agreement.

Do not let AGL employees bully you into any consent. Once you consent they can drill right up to your doorstep. You will be giving away your rights. You will be giving away the value of your property. Who’s going to buy it with gas wells every few hundred meters? – Jurd’s Real Estate says: “if the proposed mining is located in close proximity to residential or rural residential areas then the effect on property prices could be devastating. If the impact was severe it could result in property in that vicinity becoming unsaleable.” Your home will no longer be your castle. Your neighbours will be affected the same way...(read all in Gas Watch 89 ).

 

Monday, 5-July-2010. Gas Watch 88. AGL Energy – NOISE COMPLAINTS
The noise from the generators used by AGL on their property next to the Broke village is now affecting the village of Broke. And this is only exploration. Many residents of Nelson Street, Broke, which is adjacent to the first well in what AGL would hope to be a methane gas field, are being affected by noise from AGL Generators, inside their own homes, to the extent that the noise at night is able to be heard over the television.
....
There is also the real possibility of AGL Energy constructing their gas plant right next to Broke Village. When their local representative, Siobhan Barry, was asked what we could assume from the statement “AGL has no intention of placing a restrictive covenant over any freehold land owned by AGL, nor do we have any intention to do so voluntarily either now or in the future.” other than they were keeping their options to build the plant there, Siobhan Barry opened her mouth to say something, however nothing came out. She looked for help from her boss David Kelly, but no answer was forthcoming.

This pretty much confirms that they’ll build it there if they want to, and the Broke village can go to hell in the interests of corporate greed(read all in Gas Watch 88 ).

 

Monday, 31-May-2010. Gas Watch 87. AGL Energy – anticipated industrial complex on prime agricultural land in Hunter Valley. After months of trying to convince AGL Energy that they should tie up their land at Broke so that an industrial complex could never be built on it – the CEO and Managing Director of AGL Energy Michael Fraser has refused, saying “AGL has no intention of placing a restrictive covenant over any freehold land owned by AGL, nor do we have any intention to do so voluntarily either now or in the future.” Well, that’s pretty definite isn’t it? Even though he does instruct us that we “should assume nothing from” his response.

This is what AGL Energy will want to construct next to the Broke village:

AGL_RosalindParkGasPlantB.jpg

This is a Google photograph of the AGL Energy Camden Gasworks:

Read all in Gas Watch 87.

 

Friday, 28-May-2010. Gas Watch 86. AGL EXTENDS CORE BUSINESS TO COMPETE WITH LOCAL FARMERS.
One would have thought that the core business of AGL Energy was, in fact, energy. But no. The local AGL staffy, Siobhan Barry, boasts that AGL Energy has employed local winemakers to process fruit from the vineyard on their Spring Mountain Coal Seam Methane Gas site, and will soon be producing their first vintage. (read all in Gas Watch 86 ).

 

Monday, 10-May-2010. Gas Watch 85. Minister Macdonald says and offers nothing for the Hunter Valley communities
On 3rd May 2010, Minister Macdonald addressed the NSW Minerals Councils OH & S Conference at Pokolbin. We’ve been trying to get him to Broke for two years. He has said he would come on a couple of occasions, but became too busy. Maybe it wouldn’t have been too hard to come another 20 minutes on 3rd May! In the edited transcript of his address supplied to HVPA, Minister Macdonald failed to once mention or address:
   • The environment.
   • The air quality.
   • Agriculture, the basis of food for Australians.
   • The community, the human beings who live in the Hunter Valley.
   • The cumulative impacts of coal mining, methane gas extraction, power station emissions, defence forces industry, on any of the above. (read all in Gas Watch 85 ).

 

Wednesday, 14-April-2010. Gas Watch 83. Minister Ian Macdonald hides behind the Minister for Planning. Refuses Environmental study in Hunter.
In response to complaint by the community that Minister Macdonald had refused to consider initiating a full Environmental Assessment of the Hunter, Minister Macdonald hid behind his claim that “I am the Minister for Mineral Resources, not the Minister for Planning”.
He further said that “all new mining proposals submitted to the Department of Planning would require approval…which would require a transparent and thorough assessment of all relevant issues” (Newcastle Herald 14.4.2010).
Unfortunately, as has been demonstrated by Hon George Souris in his recent article, the mineral exploration and mining approval in NSW are deeply flowed. Views of the local residents are never seriously considered. The process is an expensive sharade. Recent history shows that granting of a mineral exploration license means in praxis a go-ahead for mining (read all in Gas Watch 83 ).

 

Wednesday, 14-April-2010. Gas Watch 82. NSW GOVERNMENT dawdles behind Queensland in regulating the coal seam methane gas industry. What is wrong with our Minister for Mineral Resources, Ian Macdonald? He refuses to initiate a cumulative environmental assessment of the many impacts on agriculture, the environment and the people in the Hunter Valley, of coal mining, power station emissions, dust, toxic airborne chemicals, coal seam gas exploration, hot rock power station development, and Defence Forces noise and light. Yet his counterpart in Queensland has only today announced, with Federal Government assistance, a $3.8 million coal seam gas water feasibility study in Queensland. Such is the obvious seriousness of the threat to our fresh water from coal seam methane gas extraction. (read more in Gas Watch 82 ).

 

Tuesday, 13-April-2010. Gas Watch 81. NSW GOVERNMENT Sacrifices the Hunter Valley

FOUR CORNERS programme "Dirty Business" on the ABC last night simply confirmed that NSW Goverment:

  • Sacrifices the Hunter Valley to the fossil fuel industry;
  • Perpetuates the resource rape of the Hunter Valley ;
  • Ignores the health and well-being of the families of the Hunter Valley ;

(read more in Gas Watch 81 ).

 

Friday, 9-April-2010. Gas Watch 80. AGL Energy – unable to provide proof. Danger to ground water in Hunter Valley At the insistence of the community of Broke and Bulga, AGL Energy commissioned a water study at one of two wells drilled in 2004 adjacent to the village of Broke, in an attempt to ensure that there is no danger to the upper fresh water aquifers through which AGL is drilling for coal seam methane gas...
AGL is claiming that there is no connectivity between the coal seam and the fresh groundwater and therefore no risk to the groundwater...
The peer reviewer of the AGL study, Professor Garry Willgoose of Newcastle University, says that he is satisfied that the strong indications are that there is no danger to the fresh water aquifer at that well, and for a very small area around the well...
“The pump test does not provide any direct information on the leakiness outside of that cone of depression.” ie the 20 to 50 metre radius...(read more in Gas Watch 80 ).

 

Thursday, 8-April-2010. Gas Watch 79. Hunter Valley Sacrificed by NSW Government. Minister Ian Macdonald rejects win/win proposal to save the Hunter Valley. A community deputation to Minister for Mineral Resources, Ian Macdonald on 23rd March, 2010, proposed that before there was any further mineral development of the Hunter Valley, that the NSW Government require a full Environmental Study of all current, future and cumulative impacts of coal mining, coal seam gas exploration/extraction, hot rock power stations and Defence Forces activity. The full submission can be found at http://tinyurl.com/hvpa-MinisterA

The proposal was dismissed out of hand by the Minister who accused the community of being anti development and anti energy. Coal Seam Methane Gas explorer AGL Energy has agreed that it would take part in any Environmental Assessment of the area, however they stated that they thought it was the Government’s responsibility to initiate it (read more in Gas Watch 79 ).

 

Wednesday, 17-March-2010. Gas Watch 78. AGL ENERGY – “There is no requirement for us to listen to anybody.” That was the answer given by the AGL local representative Siobhan Barry at the Community Consultative Committee meeting on 10th March, this year ....

AGL STARTED TO DRIL AGAIN IN OUR VALLEY AT THE THE SPRING MOUNTAIN WINEYARD (see picture above).

Why this Company, AGL Energy, persists in drilling holes in the Broke and Bulga areas of the Hunter Valley, when there is very little surface area available to it by virtue of the buffers required at law, it is hard to fathom. Particularly when they have thousands of square miles available to them away from heavily settled rural areas....(read more in Gas Watch 78 ).

 

Wednesday, 10-March-2010. NSW Supreme Court today found in favor of Liverpool Plains farmers who challenged the right of BHP Billiton to enter their farms to explore for coal.

The decision has broad implications for all mining companies seeking access to private land in NSW to conduct exploration and exposes serious deficiencies in the way the current regime deals with environmental protection. Supreme Court Justice Schmidt ruled that the Chief Mining Warden had erred in a number of ways when, last May, he granted BHP Billiton ‘access arrangements’ to explore for coal on the properties of the Brown and Alcorn families at Caroona. His ruling is opposed by the NSW Minerals Council. (read more)

 

 

 

Friday, 12-February-2010. BROKE VALLEY NOISE EDUCATION Bulga Coal invited HVPA members and other interested residents ( download PDF) to attend an industrial noise educational program and excursion to their open cut coal mine with practical demonstration. As noise is becoming a big issue to all valley residents we welcome this initiative.

Sunday, 7-February-2010. Gas Watch 77. AGL ENERGY – to drill more holes at Broke and Bulga. AGL Energy has just received approval from the Department of Industry & Investment, Minerals to drill a further 8 core holes and stratigraphic holes on the properties it has bought at Spring Mountain, Broke, and Windermere at Bulga. Well they had to buy some land. There aren’t too many keen to have AGL invade their properties with their drilling rigs, underground pipes, gas flares, access roads etc. (read more in Gas Watch 77 ).

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