THE gate to the Hawkesbury has been locked.
A Coal Seam Gas (CSG) exploration licence (PELA 158) lodged by CEEMAC Pty Ltd to investigate parts of the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains, was one of three refused by the state government’s office of CSG.
If approved, areas affected in the Hawkesbury would have included Bilpin, Berambing, Mountain Lagoon and Kurrajong Heights.
Minister for Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts said the OCSG refused the applications under section 15(3) of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 on the basis that ‘‘CEEMAC has not provided satisfactory evidence of matters required to be provided under the Act’’.
The refusal brought a welcome wave of relief over the Hawkesbury, particularly for residents in the identified areas.
Bilpin resident Tessa McLaughlin was among those pleased with the outcome.
‘‘It’s a great result that protects this world heritage area for now and future generations,’’ she said.
Hawkesbury Environmental Network (HEN) were relieved their three-year battle against the threat had paid off.
‘‘We have kept the community informed and let our politicians know the Hawkesbury can’t afford to lose its clean and green qualities and its unique farming, environmental and tourism values,’’ HEN’s Jocelyn Howden said. ‘‘We have been collecting petition signatures from concerned residents and visitors across the region since June.
‘‘This is a massive victory.’’
It was only two weeks ago that the region saw its biggest turnout for a CSG forum, with 120 in attendance at Kurrajong Public School hall.
Greens spokesperson for Macquarie, Danielle Wheeler said those who voiced their objection should be proud.
"It shows people have enormous power when they stand together to fight for what they believe in," she said. "Now let's get behind those still fighting CSG in Spring Farm near Camden, at Gloucester, and beyond.
"This isn't over. CSG isn't a transition fuel. It's time for a big push for renewables so we can phase out dirty coal and destructive CSG for good."
Mayor Kim Ford said he welcomed the state government’s decision.
‘‘This is a practical example of Australia’s toughest CSG regulations working for local communities,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m pleased Council’s policy on CSG is also working.’’
HEN recalled a letter received from Macquarie MP Louise Markus, where she reiterated her opposition to CSG mining in the electorate.
‘‘I’m already on record stating my view that CSG has no place in this region,’’ she wrote.
At the March 24 Council meeting, majority of councillors expressed their concern of CEEMAC’s application in the region, and a submission was lodged against the licence and the threat of further mining in the future.
At the meeting, Deputy Mayor Tiffany Tree said you don’t have to have a science degree to see how catastrophic it would be.
‘‘It’s a significant issue and would absolutely destroy the Hawkesbury as we know it,’’ she said. ‘‘There needs to be a clear message sent to the government.’’