Anti-coal seam gas activists allowed to stay
Less than a week after a council vowed to shut down a large anti-coal seam gas protest camp in the state’s north and promised police would be called in to send it packing, the activists have been told they can stay.
The Bentley camp, near Lismore, is a temporary home to between hundreds and thousands of people, depending on the day.
It was established in February on private land adjacent to the site where Metgasco plans to begin exploratory drilling for gas.
Richmond Valley Council announced last Wednesday the camp’s approval would expire at the end of that week and not be renewed due to its burgeoning numbers, the length of time it had been there, and the “ongoing breach of many of the approval conditions”.
The mayor, Ernie Bennett, said police would be required “for sure” to move the campers on.
But on Thursday morning, Mr Bennett said the protesters would not be moved, despite their occupation of the land being “illegal”.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate to remove them at this point,” he said.
“Council is working with them to put an appropriate DA [development application] before council.”
The Greens have said the police should not be used to break the protest.
“The NSW Police Force should not be used as private security to allow a coal seam gas company to force its way into a community that has overwhelmingly rejected the presence of gas fields in the Northern Rivers,” Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said this week.