IN A public meeting hosted by the Manning Alliance at Wingham Town Hall last Thursday, 350 country folk swore their allegiance to fight for the landholder rights they believe are currently under threat.
Ultimately they are fighting for the right to say “no” to exploration companies coming onto their land.
They will take their fighting spirit all the way to the NSW Upper House.
They are opposing amendments to the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 that will be debated in the Upper House when parliament resumes on August 24. The act is the State law that governs access onto private property by exploration and coal seam gas mining companies, according to Peter Epov of the Manning Alliance.
The changes to landholder rights are of particular significance to all residents of the Manning Valley. Peter said most of the Manning Valley is already under an exploration licence.
“This isn’t something that might happen, it already has,” he said.
Pangea Oil and Gas currently holds exploration licence PEL 476 which covers a vast area of our region.
“Somebody already has the right to explore your land,” said Peter.
Though the licence has recently expired according to Peter, Pangea Oil and Gas have applied to renew it.
“Under current law you still have a right to refuse access ‘at your gate’. We believe that these new amendments are designed to ‘unlock your gate’.”
In a courageous bid to defend their rights previously, landholders in the Manning proved to be worthy opponents.
United they stood when a faceless power giant threatened their land.
Fifteen months ago this community was faced with an iron army of electricity infrastructure it didn’t need.
But the timing couldn’t have been worse for power company TransGrid.
The issue of coal seam gas mining had already rocked the valley months before and woken a lot of people up. The community was in battle mode and leaders had emerged. They had learned some things. They took what they knew and joined together and the people took on the giant and won.
Their victory has made history and a legacy has been left that simply says yes, anything is possible.
Now new battle plans have been drawn. The Manning Alliance is calling on the community to “have a conversation about this.”
“The time is now,” said Peter. “Talk to your neighbours, friends, family; write to politicians; contact the media; sign our petition.”
As the community unites once again, the battle call cries out across the valley “it’s time to care!”