Otford Protection Society

A group aimed at protecting Otford region from developers: "If the developers and land speculators have their way, within a few years the ambience and healthy semi-rural living of Helensburgh & Otford will be replaced with the same stressful congested life that people had once come to this region to escape. The bushland sanctuary for our endangered wildlife and enjoyment of all, will cease to exist if carved up into tiny pieces."


The only wildlife corridor to the Royal National Park & Dharawal -through Otford & Helensburgh is in peril from developers. Otford is nestled in a stunning lush green valley at the southern end of the Royal National Park between the plateau of Helensburgh and sheer cliffs of Stanwell Tops. Unique to the coast of NSW, that; despite its proximity to Sydney & Wollongong, much of the 2508 region is still covered in dense semi-temperate rainforest, and inhabited by threatened species such as the Sooty Owl , Powerful Owl & Pygmy possums.

The region has for decades been a favourite destination for tourists, bushwalkers, surfers, bike riders, and nature lovers. And is now the start of the Grand Pacfic tourist drive to the NSW South coast. Always protected by a ridge line of forest the Otford valley, has retained its micro-climate and cooler moist conditions; feeding the springs of the Hacking river and catchment. Despite the horrific wild bushfires of 2001 that destroyed much of the Royal National Park, Heathcote and Garawarra & Wilton, Otford remained lush, moist and unscathed – and consequently a haven for the fleeing wildlife. It is the only remaining wildlife corridor connecting to the Royal National Park.

Water Before Coal Seam Gas. The impact of Coal Seam Gas Mining (CSG) in our Sydney Water Catchment, and State Conservation Land through the Illawarra.
The industry and exploration of Coal seam gas mining is relatively new in Australia and so inherits a ‘learn on the job’ methodology when it comes to accidents, disasters and hurdles. Let alone the dangers of fracking (fracturing the coal seam with immense pressure water and chemicals) in a region frought with potential subsidence and risking the purity of the drinking water rivers. So its of great surprise (or perhaps not) that the community had been kept in the dark over the plans by Apex Energy, Peabody Pacific’s Metropolitan Mine Helensburgh , State Planning and Wollongong City Council, to drill for coal seam gas in the surrounding State conservation areas and the Sydney Water Catchment .

Natasha Watson uncovered 2006 Apex Energy & Metropolitan Coal plans to build a large gas fired power station adjacent to the Helensburgh Princes Highway Gateway, and letters of Agreement between Apex Energy and Peabody Metropolitan Coal, including one of their objectives in a discussion paper dated August 9, 2010 that though they have a joint agreement for mining and profits, Peabody requests that their name not be ‘publicly’ directly linked, for fear of any problems, when drilling for gas over the long wall mining area! Such was the fear of public concern that Apex, Peabody and the Department of Planning agreed to alter the Part 3A major project application of Apex Energy, until Peaboody Metropolitan Coal Longwall Mining’ Part 3A was approved and announced by Kristina Keneally. So approval for 18 holes was temporarily changed to 15 holes, to be then amended back to 18 holes after the furore over the long wall mining approval died down in the media.

NB. Natural Gas – a ‘fossil fuel’ gas consistng primarily of methane formed by organic decomposition , heat and pressure over thousands of years, is trapped in ‘pockets’ beneath the earth’s surface all over the world. Natural Gas is also produced as byproduct of extracting gasoline/petroleum, once vented due to the difficulty of trapping, storage and transporting it, its now a viable resource and transported via pipeline and compression to LNG. As technology has improved along with the demand for cheaper plentiful fuel, the methane found naturally within coal seams, in particularly those already stimulated by previouos coal mining, has attracted major OS fue companies as well get-rich-quick cowboys ,due to its relative high return on investment. Red carpet welcoming by government and light weight legislation has created a vast and rapidly growing industry across the country, marking the Australian landscape like small pox disease. ‘Town Gas’ the traditional gas supplied to residents was produced from coal ovens, and as a consequence contained the deadly carbon monoxide. This domestic fuel has been phased out over the years and replaced with the methane based ‘natural gas’

What Lies beneath our government and our precious Sydney water catchment of Helensburgh? Its not just the methane gas that has the potential to ruin our beautiful region…….. The plans for the station plus 18 drill sites including a test methane bore on the land right behind Symbio Wildlife Park, would have come as a great shock to the local community, except perhaps a select few speculator landowners and Wollongong City Council planning. And as of May this year, the power station site is now proposed just a bit further down the Princes Highway at Darkes Forest, and the potential drill holes are scattered across the Metropolitan colliery workings,under our Sydney Water Catchment Woronora area, including nearby to the Garrawarra Aged Care Facility, Coal Seam Gas bores are planned all the way down the Illawarra escarpment through the various colliery tenement s including Huntley Heritage, Sada. The residential communities , the end users of Sydney’s drinking water catchment, conservators and guardians of our State and national conservation areas – we all NEED TO KNOW, all the pros and cons of this method of energy source exploration, extraction, processing and distribution. Mining Shareholders, the Director General & State Planning Minister should not hold all the information and right of approval. Its OUR LIVES, OUR WATER, OUR FUTURE.

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Website: Otford Protection Society