OPPONENTS to gas drilling off Newcastle have implored state and federal governments to block a request they fear could lead to industrial-scale drilling.
The Environmental Defenders Office has sent a legal letter on behalf of Save Our Coast. The letter pertains to Advent Energy's bid to vary its PEP-11 petroleum exploraton permit. If changed, Save Our Coast argues the new permit would allow them to drill within a 4547-square-kilometre site that spans from the Hunter to Sydney. In January BPH Energy, Advent's parent company, announced PEP-11 was "supremely located to potentially supply gas into the east coast gas market" and was "one of the most significant untested gas plays in Australia".
Save Our Coast argues the area is a world-renowned route for migrating whales and a dolphin habitat, and that the works put the marine ecosystem at risk.
"We are heartbroken at the very idea of further stress, uncertainty and risk of catastrophic harm that PEP 11 will inflict on us, the climate, and our beloved coast that we depend on for wellbeing and livelihoods," Save Our Coast director Dr Natasha Deen said. "This is an opportunity for Ministers Pitt and Barilaro to hear the concerns of the community, to save our way of life and save our coast that we all love."
Seismic testing proposals that preceded the drilling have met with protests in recent years. Environmental Defenders Office director of legal strategy Elaine Johnson said the strength of opposition to the project had been clear and it was not the time to be expanding fossil fuel operations.
News of the letter comes a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said new sources of gas would be required assure energy supply in years to come.
"Tens of thousands of people have spoken out about this project, citing impacts on the ecosystem, risk of petroleum spills, marine pollution, the risk of catastrophic damage to the coast, and risk to the mental health of community members," Ms Johnsen said.
"Our client believes this backlash gives a clear indication that the public interest is best-served by the joint authority rejecting any application that would enable drilling within PEP 11."
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