THE Planning Assessment Commission has refused Apex Energy’s application to drill 16 coals seam gas wells (CSG) in and around the drinking water catchment north west of Bulli.
The community has been opposing the project since early 2011. Fifteen wells were approved for development in 2009 and a determination modified to include a 16th well in 2011.
Apex lodged a request with NSW Planning for a three-year extension of the expiry date in August last year.
The application triggered 237 public submissions, the majority of which objected to the proposal.
Many residents expressed concerns that gas mining in sensitive water catchment areas could affect the region’s drinking water.
Stop CSG spokesperson Jess Moore the decision is huge win for their campaign.
“It is the result of the extraordinary and tireless efforts of so many in the Illawarra community,” Ms Moore said.
“It is the result of a powerful community campaign that has brought people together to stand up for what’s right.
“We have been planning to blockade – to protect the drinking water of over four and a half million people from CSG development – but this decision means drilling cannot happen at this time… The campaign is celebrating, and breathing a huge sigh of relief.
“But we are celebrating winning a battle, not the war.”
Ms Moore said CSG licences still cover the Illawarra and the NSW Government still supports CSG development and fracking.
“The legislation still permits CSG exploration and mining in the drinking water catchment,” she said.
“In December last year the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure recommended approval of Apex Energy’s application, the same one refused by the Planning Assessment Commission.
“The campaign to protect land and water – to put science before development – will continue.”