Some two hundred people demonstrated outside the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday in solidarity with the Gomeroi people in their fight to protect the Pilliga forest from coal seam gas extraction.

Indigenous activists were joined by environment groups and trade unions calling for Santos to withdraw an application in the Native Title Tribunal to over-ride Gomeroi rights.

Friday was the first day of a hearing in the Native Title Tribunal to consider four future acts determination applications lodged by the gas giant.

The company is seeking permission to advance its Pilliga (Narrabri) coal seam gas project, despite the opposition of Gomeroi people expressed by an overwhelming no vote at a recent public meeting, some 162 votes to two.

The Gomeroi case against the application is believed to be the first in Native Title Tribunal’s history to argue a contested project should be rejected partly due to the impact carbon emissions associated with the project would have on the climate.

Gomeroi man Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall said the strong opposition from Traditional Owners should send a clear signal to the courts.

“It is disgraceful that this multinational company refuse to respect our self-determination and is seeking permission to strip us of our rights and usurp our Country,” he said.

The Billaga was a meeting place of different tribes for ceremony and our law.

“Every tree, every bird, every animal is part of that beautiful ecosystem that is so special to us.”

Workers for Climate Action organiser Paddy Gibson said the unions were fighting to ensure the sovereignty of the Gomeroi people was respected.

“Trade unions in particular have rallied to support the Gomeroi, with seven major unions now signing a statement demanding Santos and the Morrison and Perrottet governments abandon their support for the project and invest in renewable energy and sustainable development instead,” she said.