Buckingham to Grant: Metgasco failed to earn social licence

NO GO: Gasfield Free Northern Rivers supporters display their feelings at a meeting at Bentley Hall yesterday.
NO GO: Gasfield Free Northern Rivers supporters display their feelings at a meeting at Bentley Hall yesterday. Ross Kendall

UPDATE TUESDAY: IN the wake of the Supreme Court overturning the NSW Government's decision to suspend Metgasco's Bentley gas exploration licence, NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has sent a letter to Minister for Police, Troy Grant, asking for the NSW Police Force to "respect the right of citizens to peacefully protest matters that they care deeply about."

"The vast majority of people in the Northern Rivers want their region to be gas field free. Tens of thousands of reasonable Australians are prepared and determined to partake in protest to stop any drilling for unconventional gas," Mr Buckingham wrote.

"It is clear Metgasco have failed to earn a social licence.

"I am sure you will agree that while the NSW Police Force is there to enforce the law, it should not be used as a private security for a company against the broad community."


INITIAL REPORT: BENTLEY landowners Meg and Peter Nielsen believe that if energy company Metgasco returns to the region public resistance will be even stronger than it was at last year's blockade.

"It will be on for young and old," Mr Nielsen declared.

"Our resolve will never turn. Metgasco would be absolutely foolish to try it again."

But the couple believes the NSW Government will "see common sense" before it comes to that.

BACKGROUND: Our rolling coverage of the Supreme Court decision and its aftermath

Meg Nielsen said the anti-gas community was expecting Energy Minister Anthony Roberts to "deal with Metgasco directly and uphold the people's decision".

She said last week's Supreme Court decision to overturn the suspension of the gas drilling project at Bentley shouldn't be seen as a green light for the company to return to the region.

"It was only a legal technicality that was upheld by the court. They decided the government didn't have the right at the last minute to suspend the licence," she said.

"But the government has realised this (industry) can't go ahead, that the people won't allow it to go ahead.

"So we're expecting Anthony Roberts will step in and make this good for the community."

"The Chief Scientist pointed out that it was not appropriate in certain areas, and we believe the Northern Rivers is one of those," Mr Nielsen said.

"It's short-sighted to take the money and stuff the land up for future generations."

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers yesterday hosted a meeting at the Bentley Hall to thank supporters who helped deliver the big swing to local Green candidates in the recent state election.

Regional co-ordinator Elly Bird said the majority of the local community was against CSG and they now expected politicians to meet their election promises to get the industry out of the region.

Ms Bird said the group wasn't planning any blockade action, preferring instead to use political avenues to achieve their aims.

"But we will if we have to," she said.

Ms Bird said the among the commitments made to the people of the Northern Rivers was one by Lismore MP Thomas George who said the government would try to buy back CSG licences.

"The (politicians) did promise, we will be holding them to that," she said.

Topics:  coal seam gas csg protest metgasco

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