February 17th, 2020: No Pipelines, No Gasfields Meeting in Quirindi

On Saturday the 8th of February 2020 over a 100 people from along the proposed Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline route met at the Quirindi RSL. People came from Garah north of Moree to Stanhope east of Singleton.to learn more about this high pressure gas pipeline.

The pipeline company had failed to turn a sod in the initial 10 year period they were granted to commence construction and has recently been granted by the Government another 5 years to get started.

There has been a lot of land subdivision and change of property ownership since the pipeline was first approved in 2009. Hearing about this meeting was for some the first time that they had been made aware that they could be hosting a high pressure gas pipeline on their property. In fact, the pipeline company has admitted that they didn’t have an up to date landholder register of owners along the route.

Others were dismayed to learn that they had built houses, dams and sheds in the 200 metre corridor within which the 30 metre pipeline easement has yet to be established. This was very concerning for landholders that had built houses in the corridor because there is no minimum distance to high pressure gas pipes according to the Australian Standards for gas pipeline construction.

While prospective owners can carry out title searches, this proposed pipeline doesn’t show up because there are no established easement agreements

At the meeting, David Wallis from Manuka Chaff Mill, on the outskirts of Quirindi, spoke about his concerns of the pipeline going under Borambil Creek as this would place the pipe in Quirindi’s water supply. David provided 50 years of historical data to illustrate that the pipe would be fully immersed in the alluvial aquifer for 60% of the time due to fluctuations in top water level in the Borambil creek groundwater source.

Pam Austin from the lower Hunter spoke about her community’s engagement with the pipeline company and how landholders were misled as to where the pipeline would be placed on their property.

Simon Fagan from Coonamble spoke about how his community halted the progression of  the proposed Western Slopes pipeline.

Peter Martin from the Southern Highlands described how his community stopped a proposed coal mine.

Margaret Fleck provided information on landowner obligations with easements, what you can and cannot do if a gas transmission pipeline traverses your property and some of the impacts for landholder’s businesses that they operate on their properties.

Marylou Potts, a Sydney solicitor, who specialises in advising and representing landholders who have miners and pipeline companies seeking access to their land talked about how communities can block and delay projects.

Everyone left the meeting better informed about their obligations should they sign an easment agreement, how onerous a high pressure pipeline easement agreement is on the land owner, the extra ordinary rights of the pipeline owner as to rights of entry and access at any time, the enormous amount of above ground infrastructure, how the pipeline is linked to the extremely controversial proposed Santos’ Narrabri gas project and how the Narrabri gas project is the Trojan Horse for more gasfields in North West NSW.