Anti-coal seam gas will converge on the Nationals campaign office in Ballina today to present 2200 ‘photo letters’ demanding a gasfield free region.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers regional coordinator Dean Draper said the letters represented the ‘faces of real people from all walks of life who oppose the government’s plans for more gasfields’.
While Labor, the Greens and independent candidates have promised to declare the region gasfield-free, the Nationals have failed to do so.
Mr Draper said community members had included photos of themselves with the message, ‘all I want is a Gasfield Free Northern Rivers’.
‘These letters have been collected since the rally in Lismore last November, where 8000 people marched in the streets to declare the region gasfield free,’ Mr Draper said.
‘Another 1200 letters were sent to Premier Baird in the months before the rally. ‘These are only the ones that we know of, there could be hundreds more.
‘These people represent only a fraction of the community who will be turning out to vote on this issue on March 28.’
Mr Draper said Ballina was considered a key electorate.
‘We have been door-knocking in Ballina and it’s clear that people here are concerned about what coal seam gas will mean for this community,’ he said.
‘The renewal of PEL 445 is a threat to communities right across our region – it’s a massive area and it’s under licence for another six years.
‘This means exploration for unconventional gas could be carried out in these communities until 2020.
‘It’s a threat to our water, agriculture and tourism. It’s no wonder people are concerned.’
The Liberal-National party government renewed PEL 445 in December, just two-weeks after the rally in Lismore.
The license covers a vast area in the Lismore, Ballina, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley areas, although two kilometre residential exclusion have been put in place.
Bentley landowner Ross Joseph said the renewal showed that the government wasn’t listening and ‘cannot look the people of the northern rivers in the face’.
‘All The Nationals are offering us is a flawed Gas Plan, with absolutely no protection for our region,’ Mr Joseph said
‘We’ve sent letters, we’ve met with them, and we invited them here today, but they won’t give us any assurances.
‘We feel we are being ignored. They refuse to spell out what their plans are for our region.
‘The other parties are willing to give us a gasfield free region, so why won’t they?’
Protestors will converge on the Nationals office at 11am today.