Two community meetings in relation to a controversial proposed gas pipeline across the Pilliga convened last week.
APA Group, contracted to build the pipeline that will carry Santos-mined gas to a national network, had organised two public consultation meetings in Tottenham and Coonamble.
The proposed pipeline project aims to connect coal seam gas (CSG) from Santos’ proposed Narrabri Gas Project into a national network via the Moomba Sydney Pipeline bypassing towns such as Tottenham and Condobolin.
APA said the meetings were to “provide community members with an update on activity on the Western Slopes Pipeline Project, and the opportunity to ask APA Group representatives any outstanding questions they have about the project”.
Both meetings in Tottenham and Coonamble were facilitated by former Dubbo Mayor Mathew Dickerson.
Mr Dickerson said the meetings offered a robust debate, and a number of questions were raised with regard to the route and logistics of the pipeline.
"Farming is clearly important for people and if you have something that may threaten their livelihoods it becomes an issue," he said.
After facilitating the meeting and liaising with members of the community Mr Dickerson said the pipeline was not the primary concern.
"The interesting part was that the majority of people said that the pipeline wasn't the real issue, what the issue was was what's being transported and how," he said.
“The main concern is the fact that there will be a CSG coliseum gas field in Narrabri, where the gas is produced and that will affect the farming there,” Mr Dickerson said.
He said there were two separate issues that went hand in hand: the proposed Santos CSG plant in Narrabri, and the second, the proposal of the western slopes pipeline.
"There is a pipeline, which is one issue, and it's intrinsically linked to the CSG. There's two separate approvals. Both will be submitted to state government and that process is occurring at the moment,” he said.
“They have to coexist, the two go hand in glove, the meetings I chaired were specially focused on the pipeline."
He mentioned that one of the reasons residents around Coonamble and Tottenham were focused on stopping the pipeline project, was that it could potentially stop the Narrabri gas project as well.
“One wants to stop the CSG plant in Narrabri, the other wants to stop the pipeline, and I guess how it is transported, it may stop the CSG. I guess these concerns were raised with that philosophical backdrop,” Mr Dickerson said.