What happens to a region when coal seam gas comes knocking?
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 20:30

Steven Jones, a Narrabri local of 35 years, lives on 800 acres near the NSW Pilliga Forest. Part of his property falls within the boundaries of a proposed coal seam gas drilling area.

After living next door to exploration gas wells, he says he would be happy to have the wells on his property and doesn’t have any concerns with this type of resource being developed in the region.

“As long as the government keeps an eye on it to make sure they don’t do wrong…I’m 100 per cent for them.”

But some Narrabri locals are less certain.

Jon-Maree wouldn’t be happy to have the wells on her land out of concern about the potential environmental effects, in particular the risk to the region’s water supply.

“I think it's really important to understand that a rural property, without water, is nothing. Without water our communities don't function.”

That’s a concern shared by many vocal opponents from Coonamble, a small rural town, almost 200km from the proposed project area.

Adam and Rowena Macrae are farmers who have poured money into their almost 4,000 acre property.

Part of a 461km pipeline, that will transport the gas from the project to the NSW market, is slated to be built under their land.

They feel there is too much uncertainty around the project and its associated infrastructure.

“I think that the risks are too high and we're not prepared to take those risks with our family.”

Gas company Santos has overseen exploration in the area in recent years and says these wells could provide up to 50 per cent of NSW’s gas needs. Last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged the NSW Government to approve the Narrabri Gas Project.

But local opinion about the project is divided. More than 23,000 submissions were received by the NSW Department of Planning, making it the most protested project in the history of the department.

With a looming domestic gas shortage on the horizon and the region awaiting to hear whether the project gets given the green light by the NSW Government, a special edition of Insight travels to Narrabri to hear from those who may be affected by the project and its infrastructure. 


Presenter: Jenny Brockie 

Producer: Alix Piatek 

Associate producer: Madeleine King 

Associate producer: Raveen Hunjan