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Media Release: Government must stand with community and cancel Metgasco licence

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers is calling for the NSW government to stand firm with the Northern Rivers community and cancel Metgasco’s gas exploration licence which is currently suspended.

Metgasco’s gas exploration licence over the Bentley and Casino area was suspended on 15 May after thousands of people attended a community blockade which lasted more than 4 months. The suspension came just days before a large police contingent of up to 800 officers was planning to break the blockade. Metgasco has since initiated court proceedings against the NSW government in an attempt to have the suspension overturned. The NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas will decide whether to maintain the suspension by the 25th June, prior to the court hearing date on June 27th.

“Whilst there may be arguments from Metgasco about the way the government implemented the suspension, the fact is, there is substantial evidence showing that the company failed to undertake genuine consultation with the local community and that the suspension itself was therefore wholly justified,” said Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson, Boudicca Cerese.

“Gasfield Free Northern Rivers has made detailed representations to the NSW Government highlighting Metgasco’s repeated and significant failures to comply with the community consultation guidelines[1] required under its licence conditions,” continued Ms Cerese.

“Metgasco’s failure to undertake effective consultation, in addition to its many other operational failures, provide the government with ample justification to not only suspend the licence, but to cancel it outright.”

“Only licence cancellation will adequately address the overwhelming community opposition to gasfield industrialisation of the Northern Rivers region and resolve the ongoing conflict on this issue,” said Ms Cerese.

“We are calling on the state government to stand firm and cancel Metgasco’s licence so that our community doesn’t have to live with the threat of exploration drilling at Bentley and the gasfield that will follow if that drilling is successful,” said Bentley landholder, Rosemary Joseph.

“Metgasco have failed to properly consult this community- the basic notification Metgasco provided only to the closest neighbours of the drill site does not constitute community consultation.”

“They were dismissive of our community’s concerns and refused to acknowledge any negative impacts caused by industrial gas drilling,” she said.

“We expect the state government and our National Party MPs to represent our community rather than the vested interests of mining companies like Metgasco,” continued Mrs. Joseph.

“It’s appalling that National Party leader Andrew Stoner recently spoke in favour of Metgasco and vilified our community by calling us ‘professional bludgers’,” she concluded.

Boudicca Cerese 0431 513 546

Rosemary Joseph 0412 071 990

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