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MR: Questions raised about Richmond Valley Council’s treatment of anti-gas protest camp at Bentley

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Gasfield Free Northern Rivers have raised serious concerns about the motivations of Richmond Valley Council in their treatment of the community camp set up on private land adjacent to Metgasco’s planned gas drilling site at Bentley. Richmond Valley Council has refused Gasfield Free Northern Rivers’ (GFNR) latest application to continue and expand the camp at Bungabee Road, which was made on behalf of community members opposing Metgasco’s invasive drilling at Bentley.

“It is very concerning that whilst Gasfield Free Northern Rivers is trying to comply with all requests from Richmond Valley Council, we have been denied procedural fairness by them,” said Gasfield Free Northern Rivers representative, Ian Gaillard.

“It is standard practice for Council to offer applicants an opportunity to address any perceived failings in their development applications, but for some reason Council is denying the community camp at Bentley this right.”

“This begs the questions whether Council is running a political agenda in support of Metgasco or is under undue influence from a state government intent on forcing this toxic industry on an unwilling population in the Northern Rivers?”

“I know there are hundreds of properties in Richmond Valley that are non-compliant under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, yet it is only those exercising their democratic right to protest that are being treated unfairly”, he said.

“Even more disturbingly, despite making every effort to follow due process in our dealings with Council, the occupants of the community camp have been subjected to repeated spurious allegations and vilifying innuendo in public statements and media comments by Council representatives.”

“Nonetheless, we will continue with our efforts to pursue an ongoing permit for the camp and have submitted notification to Richmond Valley Council that we will be lodging an application for redetermination of our development application under s82A,” Mr Gaillard said.

“We will be pursuing all available legal avenues to maintain the existing camp so we can support people’s right to peacefully protest Metgasco’s invasive gas mining.”

“The irony of the whole situation is that, as RVC well knows, maintaining the Bungabee Road camp is the best way of ensuring public safety and an orderly and organised camp,” concluded Mr Gaillard.

Ian Gaillard   0431 108 784

Adam Guise   0402 431 521

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