THE head of the drilling company intent on exploring the Griffith region for coal seam gas (CSG) has lashed out at the Greens, NSW Farmers and Wagga City Council.
Grainger Energy director Vaughan Cullen said fringe groups with agendas were hijacking the debate and forcing him to attack farmers.
The war of words came as Wagga City Council moved to shut their gates on the CSG industry by enacting a moratorium on testing or drilling on all land under its control, although the local government’s power to make such a decision has been questioned.
“I am sorry, but the Wagga City Council is not the state government and this is just political grandstanding as far as I am concerned,” Mr Cullen said.
“It is obviously apparent that the Wagga City Council doesn’t actually understand what exploration involves.
“Their debate would hold more merit if they educated themselves on the true nature and legislation of the proposed activities that they object to.”
Mr Cullen, who jointly owns a separate drilling business with the head of Casella Wines, John Casella and accountant Roy Spagnolo, said he would be held to a higher drilling standard than the 12,500 farming bores in the application area.
“They say coal seam gas exploration is bad and a water bore is good, but it’s the same thing only we drill to a higher standard by law,” he said.
“Those farming bores intercept the same coal horizons we are interested in exploring for unconventional gas.
“I don’t want to be attacking farmers, because our two industries can co-exist, but NSW Farmers is biased with an agenda which is not what all farmers subscribe to.
“There are only parts of the farming community that want to align themselves with the Greens, but it’s a dangerous relationship for the farmers.”
The Greens NSW spokesman on mining Jeremy Buckingham said Mr Cullen was comparing apples with oranges.
“I’m not surprised that representatives from the gas industry have attacked farmers directly using such inflammatory and emotional language,” Mr Buckingham said. “To equate simple farm water bores with a gas fracking operation is nonsensical.
“Farmers are not pumping toxic chemicals into the ground and deliberately fracturing it, they’re not rapidly depressurising an aquifer.
“Grainger Energy should understand that the Riverina community does not want coal seam gas.”
A final draft of Grainger Energy’s submissions including answers to community submissions will be handed to the state government next Friday ahead of the government’s verdict on the exploration application.