Blue Mountains conservationists have warned that the controversial Santos coal seam gas project at Narrabri approved by the NSW Planning Department earlier this month could open the way for licences in the Blue Mountains to be revived.
Founding member of Stop CSG Blue Mountains, Jan O'Leary, said: "When the CSG exploration licences and applications covering the Blue Mountains were removed several years ago, we thought we could relax.
"But nowhere is safe now that both federal and state governments are pushing their CSG agendas full steam ahead."
Ms O'Leary said that a leaked report of the National COVID Co-ordination Commission proposes scrapping bans on CSG projects, development of new gas fields and getting state and federal governments to underwrite gas prices.
"NSW will get over $2 billion for energy projects - so long as they are gas. The 850-well Narrabri project will be a test case for both governments."
The NSW government has referred the project to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for final determination as a state significant development with the recommendation that it be approved. This is now open for public submissions at https://www.ipcn.nsw.govau/have-your-say?
"If it is approved, beware western Sydney, Blue Mountains, central west and north west. It will be on again," said Ms O'Leary.
Next week, Cr Kerry Brown will call on Blue Mountains Council to reaffirm its opposition to coal seam gas as a climate-changing fossil fuel and make a submission to the IPC opposing the Narrabri project.
"This council has opposed coal seam gas mining in our region, it has declared a climate emergency and we are currently picking up the pieces after the worst bushfires ever recorded in the Blue Mountains and Australia.
"It beggars belief that coal seam gas is back on the agenda following the federal government's dirty funding deal with the states."
Local resident and environmental scientist, Annabel Murray, said: "We have all the technology for a 100 per cent renewable energy now.
"Ten per cent of government fossil fuel subsidies could fund all the change we nèed for a renewable energy future."
Sharon Wilkinson of Stop CSG Blue Mountains said that "Santos will drill into and extract 37.5 billion litres of water from the recharge zone of the Great Artesian Basin which supports farms and communities across inland Australia".
"The project will produce about 840,000 tonnes of salt waste with no solutions for its disposal - an unresolved problem for the industry in general. Contaminated water is another by-product requiring disposal."
Cr Brown warned that "the duplicated Great Western Highway would facilitate larger trucks to transport materials for the construction of the CSG drills and pipelines as well as being a route for transporting contaminated waste back to Sydney for processing".
Ms O'Leary said: "Submissions are vitally important to stop this odious project. Timelines and help with submission writing can be found on our website, stopcsgbm.net.au."