Friday, 9 November 2012

Clarence Communities Declaring Themselves CSG Free

At Kungala Hall on Sunday 4 November, residents of 25 roads from the communities of Lanitza, Kungala, Braunstone, Wells Crossing and Halfway Creek declared their roads and communities CSG FREE.  This moving celebration follows an extensive survey process whereby each resident over the age of 16 years, on each of the 25 roads, was asked the question, “Do you want your roads and lands CSG Free”. With 432 residents surveyed, only 8 said no, and 6 were unsure, giving a percentage of 95.6% not wanting gasfields in their community.

“The CSG Free Communities Strategy is a grass roots democracy process", said Lynette Eggins, CSG Free Community Coordinator in the Clarence Valley LGA. "The NSW government has failed to protect farmers and communities from invasive gasfields. Now the communities of Lanitza, Kungala, Braunstone, Wells Crossing and Halfway Creek have decided to take charge of their own destiny. After a comprehensive survey process showing overwhelming support, they have declared their communities no-go zones for gasfields. These declarations are strong statements from the people, declaring their intent to defend their community from an invasive and reckless industry. An industry that poses risks to water, land values, farming land and the health of families”

This neighbour to neighbour survey of more than 430 residents shows that the mining companies have no social licence. These communities emphatically reject unconventional gas mining in our region.” she said.

Other communities in the Clarence Valley local government area are following suit with many localities preparing to declare themselves Gasfield Free over the coming months. "People have been contacting me for advice on how to get the community survey going in their district", said Lynette Eggins, "it's fantastic to see such community spirit". This follows the trend throughout the Northern Rivers where communities have been undertaking this process over the past year. From the Queensland border, down through the Lismore area and now the Clarence, many communities have declared themselves Gasfield Free through the grass-roots community-run survey.

“Social licence to turn the Clarence Valley into gasfields? I don’t think so” said Ms Eggins.

Councillor Sue Hughes generously offered her time to accept road declarations from the delegates of each of the 25 surveyed roads, and in turn presented  residents with their Gasfield Free Road Sign. Councillor Hughes said she will table the Declarations at a Council Meeting in December. The box of 25 road Declarations from these communities can now be added to Declarations from the community of Ewingar, in the Upper Clarence, accepted by Mayor Richie Williamson at the Rock the Gate Rally in Lismore earlier this year.

“Across the Northern Rivers, communities are running with this grass-roots process",  said Annie Kia from Lock the Gate Alliance Northern Rivers, who was instrumental in developing the initiative early this year. "So far, a total of 11,590 people have responded to the survey in more than 60 communities. Of these, 96% said YES to wanting their road and community Gasfield Free. Astonishingly, only 1% said NO to going Gasfield Free, with 3% NOT SURE. This is about self-determination. Communities have a right to protect existing industries, their land, water and health. The people of the Northern Rivers clearly reject gasfield industrialisation, with all its risks."