Rant: Beautiful one day, fracked the next

If you’ve ever been to the peaceful rural town of Gloucester, just over three hours drive north from Sydney, you’ll know that it is a very special place.

Nestled in the foothills of the Barrington Tops World Heritage Area, the town is renown for its fine agricultural products like wine, dairy and beef, and also for being a favourite haunt of the legendary bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt. Today though, it’s become famous for another reason – fracking.

AGL has begun a program of hydraulic fracturing for coal seams within a few hundred metres of people’s homes and the local community is rising up, just like our own Inner West community did when we heard that Dart Energy wanted to drill for coal seam gas in St. Peters.

Coal seam gas mining is a process that even the Chief Scientist has said will have “unintended consequences” on our drinking water catchments and even the air we breathe.

Toxic chemicals used in the extraction of this gas can contaminate our aquifers, and gas leaks from the wells can pollute the air we breathe. Even rivers start to bubble methane when gasfields operate nearby and bore water can catch on fire.

There is a law in NSW that prohibits coal seam gas fracking within 2 kilometres of residential areas but this does not apply in Gloucester or Camden where AGL has over 100 gas wells, some within 70 metres of brand new homes.

In the Camden gasfield area, children have been displaying symptoms like bleeding from the nose, symptoms that are disturbingly similar to those experienced by children in Queensland’s Tara district, which is also surrounded by an unconventional gasfield.

Gas companies say we need this fossil fuel due to a gas shortage in New South Wales but the reality is that this gas is destined for the overseas market where companies can get three times the price for it.

That is why, as of July, our gas prices went up – not because of a shortage but because of greedy companies who don’t care about our land, our water or our future. We must support our brothers and sisters in Gloucester and Camden in their struggle to fend off this destructive unsafe industry.

If you want to hear more about what is going on at Gloucester, come along to the information nights:

• Nov 5, 6pm. Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. 1 Bedford St, Newtown

• Nov 12, 6pm. Gaelic Club. 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills

Words: Nell Schofield

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