The NSW Supreme Court is set to announce tomorrow (Friday) its ruling on whether the NSW government acted outside its powers when it suspended Metgasco’s drilling licence at Bentley.
It is almost a year since the company’s licence to explore for unconventional gas at its Rosella well near Lismore was suspended following sustained and overwhelming local opposition to the proposed drilling operation.
Gasfield Fee Northern Rivers representatives Ian Gaillard and Dean Draper will be travelling to Sydney overnight for tomorrow morning’s hearing.
Mr Draper told Echonetdaily he was ‘hoping common sense will prevail but added he believed there would be another court case ‘whichever way it goes’.
‘Either Metgasco will be trying for compensation or the government will be seeking to have the ruling overturned if it goes against them,’ he said.
Still, much is hanging on tomorrow’s decision, which has the potential to unravel months of community action against the northern rivers based gas explorer.
A protesters’ camp at the site for weeks drew thousands of people in support and a huge police contingent was set to break a blockade of the site before the government acted.
All northern rivers councils have voted overwhelmingly to declare the region gasfield-free.
Resources minister Anthony Roberts suspended Metgasco’s exploration licence after concerns the company had not undertaken ‘genuine and effective consultation with the community’.
But the company say the government was acting outside its powers.
It also claims the government ‘did] not follow the procedures defined in the Act or afford Metgasco procedural fairness’ and says that the decision to suspend the drilling activity based on Metgasco’s community consultation ‘could not have been made rationally’.