Two Blacktown groups have joined an alliance of 50 from across Sydney, the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains to protect the drinking water supply from destructive mining practices.
They are Blacktown and District Environment Environment group, led by Martin O’Reilly, and Stop CSG Blacktown, which is led by Melinda Wilson.
The launch of the alliance — called Protect Sydney’s Water — was at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday.
Blacktown and District Environment Group secretary Wayne Olling said they were opposed to coal seam gas extraction because of its effect on the environment.
‘‘Among several threats is the adverse impact on water supply, including flows to creeks and springs which take water to reservoirs or for sustaining the natural environment,’’ he said.
‘‘We call on the government to think more of the people who live in our state and the environment, rather than the corporations and their lobbyists making money sending gas from our land overseas.’’
Stop CSG Blacktown spokesperson Melinda Wilson said in 2009 the Premier, then Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell said the next Liberal National Government would ensure that mining cannot occur in any water catchment.
‘‘It’s now September 2013, the coalition government has been in power for two and half years. There are coal seam gas and long-wall coal mining licences throughout 90 per cent of the catchment,’’ she said.
‘‘ Apex energy still owns the lease to drill hundreds and in time perhaps thousands of coal seam gas wells throughout the area surrounding our drinking water supply, much of it pristine bushland.
‘‘The government has also just introduced into Parliament an amendment to planning laws that will ensure economic outcomes will trump environmental concerns in planning deliberations. This will make it far more likely that mining projects will go ahead.''
A new poll, conducted for the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Lock The Gate, found 87 per cent of people support banning coal mining and coal seam gas (CSG) activities in water catchment areas and within two kilometres of rivers and wetlands.
Sydney Catchment Authority figures show that the four coal mines that undermine the Sydney region drain about three billion litres a year from the water supply.
During CSG extraction, millions of litres of water are pumped from deep beneath the earth, threatening ancient aquifers and producing vast quantities of polluted water.
Due to the risks associated with fracking, NSW Health has called for a “comprehensive assessment of potential risks to human health” in relation to CSG drilling.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW campaigns director Kate Smolski said rather than approving developments like the extension of BHP-Billiton’s Dendrobium longwall coal mine, the government should live up to its pre-election promise and ban mining in drinking water catchments.