The Maules Creek community has formally declared itself gasfield free at a celebration in the north-west New South Wales locality.
The declaration means the Santos Narrabri petroleum licence area is now entirely circled by communities who have voted to be gasfield free.
All of the roads around the Maules Creek district were declared gasfield free, with 97 per cent of residents stating that they do not want to live in a gasfield.
A Santos-owned petroleum licence also hangs over the Maules Creek area and there are fears the company would exploit the holding, should its Narrabri project get the go ahead.
The Maules Creek licence is one of more than a dozen ‘zombie’ exploration licences that are still technically active despite expiring. If an application to renew a licence is made before its expiry date, the licence can continue indefinitely until a decision is made.
The NSW National party has said it will lobby the State Government to extinguish ‘zombie’ licences, after a motion was passed at its annual conference in July 2019.
Narrabri Shire Councillor, Ron Campey, was present to accept the declaration.
Maules Creek resident, Sally Hunter, said the Maules Creek’s declaration was important.
“By declaring Maules Creek gasfield free, this has closed the ring of communities right the way around the Narrabri gas project area,” Ms Hunter said.
“Every community around the circumference of the proposed project area have now declared, in the vast majority, that they do not want to live in a gasfield.
“It was nice to have an opportunity for the community to come together, during this tough time. Even though people are suffering from the drought and are having their water affected by Maules Creek mine, it was good to get together and share a cuppa and a scone provided by the Maules Creek Country Women’s Association.
“Maules Creek is one of seven gasfields across New South Wales that have been mapped and promoted by Santos to their investors where exploration licences are still in existence.
“If the company’s Narrabri project gets the go ahead, there is nothing stopping them developing these other gasfields.
“Despite the recent vote at the Nationals’ annual conference, the New South Wales Government has refused to get rid of these ‘zombie’ licenses, even though they are expired.
“Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, needs to step up and listen to his own party, and advocate in government for these zombies licences to be slain.”
Maules Creek residents will present the declaration at the next Narrabri Shire Council meeting.