FOR Holly Rankin the 2010 film Gasland was not a documentary, but a horror film.
“There was one scene in particular where the director goes to a farm in Colarado that has been mined and a farmer shows his tap water is so polluted that he can set it alight,” Holly says of the film about coal seam gas (CSG) mining in America which was nominated for an Oscar in 2011.
Inspired to investigate closer to home, Holly turned to the ABC website ‘Coal Seam Gas by the Numbers’ and was shocked at how far CSG mining has developed in neighbouring Gloucester.
“It’s freaky,” Holly says, “it’s so scary. Just seeing the number of mines you can find on that (ABC) map. Gloucester’s the new hotspot.
“AGL has approval to develop up to 110 gas wells. Gloucester is the headway for our water - it comes down into the Manning and then comes to us. If we don’t start opposing this now, we could end up like Chinchilla in Queensland,” Holly says, bringing up a map of the Queensland town littered with hundreds of dots that indicate gas wells.
Last year’s Upper House Inquiry into CSG mining was held in Taree and whilst the CSG issue has sparked huge interest and discussion in the neighbouring Gloucester and Greater Taree shires, it is yet to create huge community dialogue in the Great Lakes. Holly hopes to change that in creating her new group Youth Against CSG mining in the Great Lakes.
“Coming from here (Great Lakes) we are all instinctively very protective of our water and our beautiful environment and CSG mining, the way it happens, is so direct and raw compared to other mining processes and there is not a lot of evidence regarding what it can do to water supply long term.”
Holly also believes it is important that youth of the area have a voice and maintain an interest in their local community, even after they leave.
“I don’t know how many people are aware that there is an exploration license in the Great Lakes, held jointly by AGL and Pangea, so it could happen here. That’s why I started my little group on Facebook just to begin the discussion in some way. I wanted to focus on youth because a lot of time in Forster the opinions come from older people because the youth leave for work or university.”
The group is currently putting together a petition in support of a motion Great Lakes Councillor Linda Gill will move at next week’s (July 24) ordinary meeting of council.
“We fully support the motion Linda Gill is bringing to council next week to make the Great Lakes CSG free.
“This is an area built on its beauty so anyone with interest in tourism, farming or anything to do with water quality has to inform themselves about this issue,” Holly says.
The group is also aiming to put together information evenings at the Forster Library with contributions from neighbouring groups who oppose CSG mining and a potential screening of the film Bimblebox, a documentary that explores Australia’s entire coal export industry.
“Gasland was great but this Australia specific film will go a long way to informing people about CSG here in Australia.”
People can find the group on Facebook or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.