Peter Fitzsimons joins Stop CSG Illawarra protesters rally at North Cronulla

Organisers of an anti coal seam rally at North Cronulla this week were encouraged by the support they received.

About 80 people signed a petition during two hours, Tony Markham, from Stop CSG Illawarra, said.

They included Fairfax Media journalist and author Peter Fitzsimons.

The protest was designed to highlight “the threat posed to the shire” by petroleum exploration licence (PEL) 463, which covers most of Sydney.

Dart Energy, which holds the licence, is being bought by the UK-based gas giant IGas Energy, which plans to sell off its non-UK assets.

“This means that PEL 463 can remain ‘live’ and be sold on to another unconventional gas company at a later date, which is not an option for the community,” Mr Markham said.

Protesters called on the state government to cancel the licence.

Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said the licence, which was granted by the previous government, was due to expire in October next year.

“The Foreign Investment Review Board has approved this sale, with the PEL was legally granted in 2008,” he said.

 “There are legal requirements that must be met to suspend or cancel a PEL.

“As the NSW government has demonstrated, if a titleholder cannot live up to those requirements action will be taken.”

Mr Roberts said the two kilometre exclusion zone around residential areas introduced by the Coalition government covered this PEL.

“Part of the PEL is also covered by the moratorium for a special catchment area, in this case near Prospect."

Mr Markham said the two kilometre exclusion zone was “a nonsense” because drilling technology allowed horizontal drilling for several kilometres in any direction.

The entire catchment should be excluded from CSG exploration to protect drinking water, he said.

“That’s a no-brainer,’’ he said.

Do you think the government should cancel this licence?