AGL suspends its plans to mine for coal seam gas in Campbelltown

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COMMUNITY members have slammed AGL's announcement that it has pressed pause on plans to mine for coal seam gas beneath homes in Camden and Campbelltown. 

AGL announced this morning it would suspend its application for stage three of the Camden Gas project due to growing concern from the commmunity. 

The company had plans to drill 66 coal seam gas wells in Camden and Campbelltown, including the Scenic Hills, as part of its northern expansion.

Scenic Hills Association spokeswoman Jacqui Kirkby said the announcement was not good news.

‘‘They’re only suspending it,'' she said. 

‘‘The only reason they’ve suspended it is because they think they’ll get an adverse decision.‘‘

‘‘We do not want this suspension we want it to go ahead and the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to make a decision based on the information, AGL’s had enough time.

‘‘Let’s get it properly assessed — they’ve got to pull the plug.’’

‘‘They’re just trying to wear us down. 

''Even if the PAC approves it the community will not let it happen.’’

Ms Kirkby also said she believed the company was trying to influence the last day of submissions and encouraged residents to still voice their concerns by the end of the day. 

Today was the last day for community members to make a submission about the proposed expansion to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission. 

Public hearings due to be held at Campbelltown Catholic Club on February 25 have been cancelled. 

AGL's group general manager for upstream gas, Mike Moraza, said in a statement the company had asked the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure to suspend its assessment of the project. 

''AGL understands that there are some members of the community who are concerned about the current proposal and we believe that this suspension will allow us to consider those community concerns,'' Mr Moraza said.

NSW Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher said in a statement: 

“Though a commercial decision of the company, the NSW Government commends AGL on its commitment to community engagement and ensuring that the concerns of the local community are addressed.”

Camden MP Chris Patterson encouraged AGL to increase its communication with the community.

Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell said AGL had done the right thing and listened to the community. 

 "The community deserve a pat on the back for raising their concerns and making submissions to the Independent Planning Assessment Commission.''

Opposition health spokesman Andrew McDonald, who is also Macquarie Fields MP, said the decision was the result of community action. 

''I think the evidence will get stronger that this cannot be done in residential areas,'' Dr McDonald said. 

Do you think the suspension is a good or bad thing?