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Farmer wants Metgasco to start drilling at Bentley

Bentley landowner Peter Graham. (picture Darren Coyne)

Bentley landowner Peter Graham. (picture Darren Coyne)

A Bentley landowner is hoping the state government will support any moves by gas mining company Metgasco to begin exploring for gas on his property.

Farmer Peter Graham, a former Lismore city councillor, signed an access agreement with Metgasco in January 2012, which covered his family’s land at Bentley.

Before any drilling could take place, thousands of protestors set up camp on land adjacent to the Graham’s property, vowing to stop any drill rigs from entering.

With reports of up 800 police set to ‘break’ the Bentley blockade, the state government announced that it was suspending Metgasco’s drilling license.

Last week, however, the NSW Supreme Court overturned that decision, describing it as unlawful.

Now Mr Graham wants Metgasco to get on with the job, arguing NSW Premier Mike Baird was supportive of the industry.

‘Throughout the state election both Labor and the Greens were saying that Mike Baird was supportive so I assume that support is still there,” Mr Graham told ABC radio.

He rejected claims that there was no gas shortage, saying NSW was buying gas from Queensland instead of developing a local industry.

Mr Graham said he was concerned that local Federal National MP Kevin Hogan and state National MP Chris Galaptis had spoken out against the industry.

‘It does concern me and I have to talk to my National Party friends.

‘I need to sit down and talk with them, and the industry needs to sit down and talk with them,’ he said.

Meanwhile, opponents of coal seam gas mining including the Greens and anti-gas groups such as Lock the Gate and Gasfree Northern Rivers, have called on the state government to restore a broad public interest test in the state’s mining and gas laws.

Greens MP for Ballina, Tamara Smith.

Greens MP for Ballina, Tamara Smith.

Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith said despite the court victory, Metgasco should heed the ‘clear message from the community that they want a gasfield free northern rivers’.

“If Metgasco try to drill again, the community will resist and I will be standing with them,’ Ms Smith said.

‘The judgment in no way endorses Metgasco’s community consultation and the Judge goes to some effort to emphasise “it is no part of my function to assess the desirability of any of the activities of Metgasco, or the desirability of the suspension of any of those activities”.’

Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the NSW Supreme Court decision was a ‘technical win’ for Metgasco.

‘The government may have stuffed up the cancellation process, but the substantive issue that the community has rejected unconventional gas extraction in the Northern Rivers remains,’ Mr Buckingham said,

‘The Greens will be introducing legislation to re-instate a broad public interest test to government has the power to protect communities from irresponsible mining and gas drilling.’

Gasfield Free spokesperson Dean Draper also descrbed the decision as a technical victory, saying ‘It does not mean that the suspension was not warranted – just that it was not carried out properly’.

‘Lack of consultation has been the hallmark of Metgasco’s operations in the northern rivers for many years and our community will continue to pressure government to implement legitimate measures to stop this industry from going ahead here,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Metgasco Managing Director, Peter Henderson issued a statement welcoming the court’s decision.

‘We believe that our decision to pursue legal action has been vindicated,’ he said.

‘We will be seeking compensation for the damage that has been inflicted on Metgasco and its 5,000 shareholders by the NSW Government’s unlawful decision.’

He said that the company was very keen to develop a gas business in NSW and hopes to be able to work co-operatively with the Government to achieve this outcome.

‘Before recommencing drilling activities in the northern rivers region, we would appreciate the opportunity to talk to government.’


35 responses to “Farmer wants Metgasco to start drilling at Bentley”

  1. Kim Curtis says:

    Yes Bentley landowner, not Bentley resident. Big difference!!!!

  2. Heather Black says:

    Majority do not want CSG in the Northern Rivers region,or indeed,in NSW.
    Minister Roberts needs to hear from all who disagree with this Bentley farmer,(not resident).

    “Gasfield Free spokesperson Dean Draper also descrbed the decision as a technical victory, saying ‘It does not mean that the suspension was not warranted – just that it was not carried out properly’.”

  3. Jon says:

    Give the greenies one warning and then move the bulldozers in. That’ll clear them!
    We’re too soft on these chancers.

    • Earthlover says:

      You didn’t notice that the Bentley blockade wasn’t just Greenies, but intelligent and responsible farmers, too?

    • Bob says:

      Problem is that the Graham’s neighbours are at the head of this fight and they are going no where. So turn your bulldozers on us! We’re getting used to tackling idiots!

    • Peter, Gloucester says:

      When you say we, mate, guess you mean yourself and the large mining company you support above common decency and the farmer who sold his own kind out for a few extra dollars. Funny word, we. WE are not going anywhere.

  4. Lucy Ashley says:

    Personal greed over community need. Selling out our region’s future for a few pieces of silver. Shameful stuff.

  5. UnionStreetResident says:

    Somebody said Peter Graham wasn’t too bright. I think he might need testing. He’s said previously he’s not getting any huge $$$ payback for doing this.

  6. Well Peter Graham may well be a Bentley resident. Not everyone is against CSG.

  7. Sumar says:

    The government cannot behave irresponsibly
    by ignoring International Criminal Law entitled ‘Superior Responsibility’ this law defines a Duty of Care governed by the decisions it makes which can adversely effect those it aims to serve and protect.
    The legal outdated current laws to shareholders never considered consequence and therefore consequence must now be included by law.
    We request the termination of all CSG until the Law is updated to include a missing Fifth Law against Peace outlawing destructive effects to inhabitants and environment.

  8. Ken says:

    Yup !
    There’s one born every minute, hey Peter.
    G”)

  9. annette says:

    does he have any idea on what damage this is going to do to our water and environment??

  10. Robin Anscomb says:

    And where exactly does Mr Graham live? I’ll et its not anywhere near ‘his’ land, or within cooee of the real effects on his and his neighbours’ land and environment.

  11. Rachel says:

    Lets get clear here. The court said the government had erred in the way they went about suspending the license. This is not the same as saying The Fiasco (Metgasco) have the go ahead to drill. This is not the same as saying The Fiasco have a clear passage. This is not the same as saying the government will grant them a license. The number of obstacles in their way!! Oh boy. They think they have a easy run – they have another thing coming!! For starters There are a ton of legal spanners we will throw in their works along the way to tie them up for years if necessary. They will find the towns will not allow their trucks through, the restaurants will not feed their staff, the hotels will not them accommodation, the fencing mobs will not rent them fence. And after last time, the police will not be stepping in to remove the Protectors. And the COMMUNITY – that’s We, The People – don’t f**k with us!!! And I’m just amazed that the CSG industry and minority supports don’t believe in karma? I’m just so incredulous – people are so dumb they think they can commit actions without consequences. And these people are in charge of heavy machinery and other peoples money? Karma, baby! And, have you heard of people having calamity fall upon them after messing with the Indigenous peoples traditional ways. Ask those in Alice Springs who moved some Ancestral boulders – every single shop that opened up in that spot went bust after 3 months, one after the other

  12. Bentley Bob says:

    I’m pretty sure that Peter Graham’s parents own the land, not Peter. I can also guarantee that they will not drill at Bentley! The people who live there will not tolerate this sort of bully tactics and we WILL fight.

  13. Brian says:

    Mr Graham is a brave man. By supporting CSG, he is in danger of being branded a heretic and being burnt at the stake

  14. Mick says:

    It’s not a CSG well! It’s a conventional well.
    Lucky we did not ban petrol years ago, otherwise the Hippies would have to walk to CentreLink!

    • Raucous Reg says:

      It’s not a conventional well, it’s a tight gas well – that’s where the real $$$ are – Hendo admitted as much in the lead up to the proposed drilling! Tight gas/ CSG/ shale – the effects are the same with massive above ground infrastructure industrialising landscapes and dangerous well completion techniques jeopardising groundwater

    • Mich says:

      It’s not a “conventional free-flowing” well. It’s majority Tight Gas. All zones will require an extensive fracking program.

    • Well put Mick. I like your sense of humour. Not sure it will influence those who feel strongly about not allowing CSG but it might make them think – maybe….not sure.

      • seedwalkabout says:

        Whether we are greenies, hippies, liberal, labour, workers or not, is irrelevant guys… the fact is that CSG extraction and/or Fracking for tight gas is extremely toxic and dangerous to the region and all of us… including you. We live here too… Get some facts and stop with the ignorant ‘us vs them’ attitude please. We are Protectors, for good reason… and you could try opening your minds beyond the narrow judgements you have so simplistically outlined… time to get smart if you can!!! Come on, let s ban this insanity and reclaim our rights to clean air and water… you can t farm near a fracking site, got it???

    • Duncan says:

      So clean air and water are less important than petrol and gas? Try living without clean air and water for a month, I guarantee you will feel worse than if you had to go without petrol and gas. Grow a brain and a conscience mate.

  15. william says:

    This story about Mr.Graham reminds me of the studies done about nature deficit disorder and the lack of social intelligence that results – in this we can witness the emotional illness caused by an alienation from nature. Without this vital connection to the natural world, people lose interest in protecting it and fail to see how connected it is to our lives. Mr Graham and our government seem to have forgotten the sense of mutual affection and the responsibilities we have to one another, and to mother earth. In these challenging times, I worry for my children and the future the will inherit. I don’t believe Mr.Graham could possibly live on this property, it seems more a financial investment as is evident with the obvious lack of connection to place. Anything that damages our environment can never be considered an investment, it’s just theft from our children.

  16. Barbara Thomas says:

    One person, Peter Graham, motivated by financial gain does not equal to horrendous effects of CSG mining for the rest of the community (see Gasland I and II and Frackman!!).

    As we know at least 87% of the community has SAID NO TO CSG – it is the community Peter Graham needs to listen to, not confer with the government and his mates the Nationals – capitalism at its worst.

    If it weren’t for the impact on all the locals in the area, it would be good to see P. Graham reap the consequences of his decision by living with the impacts of this disastrous industry and see how he likes it then, but from what I can gather he’s an absentee landlord, reminds me of the rorts in the 19th C.

    And as many reports show, NSW does not have a shortage of gas….they just need to stop exporting it all! AND WE NEED TO CHANGE OVER TO RENEWABLES!

  17. Pratima says:

    Australia is so large that it seems rather impractical and illogical for the government to allow CSG mining to go ahead in our area when 10,000 or maybe 12,000 of us will be there to stop Metgasco going in to Bentley, or anywhere in our neighbourhood within a few hours drive.

    Last time we were a day away from 700 – 800 police men having to confront 9 -12,000 of us. It was going to bring a lot of negative press attention to CSG, spreading the word around Australia of how bad it is for our land and water.

    Is the government for the people or just for the corporations please?
    The government must be under a lot of pressure from them to do what they want. Plus their financial assistance to government must feel essential to them.
    However, Ballina has voted Green because of the issue. Lismore was nearly Green and will be next election if CSG goes ahead.

  18. Pratima says:

    Australia is so large that it seems rather impractical and illogical for the government to allow CSG mining to go ahead in our area when 10,000 or maybe 12,000 of us will be there to stop Metgasco going in to Bentley, or anywhere in our neighbourhood within a few hours drive.

    Last time we were a day away from 700 – 800 police men having to confront 9 -12,000 of us. It was going to bring a lot of negative press attention to CSG, spreading the word around Australia of how bad it is for our land and water.

    Is the government for the people or just for the corporations please?
    The government must be under a lot of pressure from them to do what they want. Plus their financial assistance to government must feel essential to them.
    However, Ballina has voted Green because of the issue. Lismore was nearly Green and will be next election if CSG goes ahead.

    Byronshire is going to set an example to the rest of Australia and maybe the rest of the world, and try and become the first to become entirely renewable. We can do it!

  19. Doug says:

    Peter,
    I hope not to see you at your gate! Hopefully the Government (as in the one recently voted in, in the case of Lismore, by a very slim margin) will see sense & rescind/cancel the CSG licenses in NSW.
    If there is a local protest about this decision from the High Court, with its possible future consequences, we will need even stronger protest than before. I, for one will be very visible at any protest I can attend. Up until last week I was fully employed (making a mockery of the above comments about protestors being ‘Dole Bludgers’) but now can put all my energy into peacefully protesting against any proposed expansion of invasive mining or CSG in the Northern Rivers, where I live, breathe & eventually will probably be buried!
    Also, Peter, I would like you to go to Tara to see the Industrial wasteland that CSG produces: it turns productive land into fractured parcels that cannot be easily broad-acre farmed. I have a friend now stuck in Tara: he cannot sell his farm (who wants to live in an industrial wasteland?) & it seems the pollution is making him sick.
    Peter, you also may still be able to negotiate a sale with an adjoining landowner if you really need the pittance that Metgasco will pay you to ruin our area. Please sell & get out of our area!

    I am hoping not to have to protest against CSG in the future, but will if it is required. Renewables are the future, not persisting with Fossil Fuel. We should be moving quickly towards replacements for fossil based Coal, Petrol & Gas. It can be done with current technology & our world will thank us for it.

  20. Meg says:

    You are right Mick, it is not CSG Mining in this case, but you are wrong in it being Conventional Gas. It is Un-conventional Gas, it is further below the CSG level, it is in fact TSG, Tight Sands Gas ….. 2 kms down !
    Before this land in Question was a Quarry, and before it was a Farm, on what is still called Disputed Plains, it was a Very Special Place for all the local tribes. They Gathered there on that Hill and Creek Flats. All the tribes from north, south, east and west, to do ceremony, teach the young ones and settle tribal disputes.
    We found ourselves camped on Stone Patterns, hidden in the top paddock. And for those of us with access to the voices of the ancestors, we saw and heard, memories lingering, from that time.
    The People United, Will not Let this Invidious Curse of an Industry, to make gasfields multiply. We need the Government to wake up. To listen to the People, not be swayed by Mining Company Dollars and Lies.

  21. Louise Macaulay says:

    Could “the gentleman in question”, Mr. Graham, possibly be a major stakeholder of Metgasco? Knowing fully well the implications involved with CSG, but merely not giving a toss about the future of his grandchildren (should he have any)?

  22. Jesus Jon, Give us a break. Why do you insist on being such a goose? “Give them a warning & then move the Bulldozers in” What planet are you living on? Go back to Schoolteaching you might get some satisfaction out of it (But I Doubt it). What is so hard to understand about water contamination & our way of life & growing crops & raising cattle all of which can’t digest water contaminated with the fracking chemicles (not without showing in the final product (Three legged calves, crops that blight ) and do you want 3 legged children, Sorry 1 legged children corn tomatoes etc OH they all give me an itch Well tut tut………….

  23. Richard Swinton says:

    Mr Peter Graham
    There are a number of issues I have with your desire to open up drilling on your property.
    I get the impression your attitude is more one of ‘Up yours, mate; I’ll do what I want on my property” than ‘I have the right to earn money how I want from my land’. If so, there doesn’t seem much we can do to change that.

    However, the issues I have are these: first, the ‘testwell’ is only going in because Metgasco believe there is a high chance of finding a viable gas supply – tight gas supply. If they do find it, not only your property, but all your neighbors properties will be forced into having wells on their land. There is no way under current Australian law that they can stop them if the gas field is economically viable and the Government can’t see past the dollars flashing in their eyes – Oh, It’s the Government that gets the royalties – not you!
    I don’t see how you can be so blase about your neighbors rights and desires. Perhaps if you lived near them, you mightn’t be so arrogant.

    Second – I’ll bet you don’t believe in the impact of fossil fuel on climate change!?
    I’m afraid the science is quite clear – we are the major cause of climate change through carbon dioxide pollution – largely from fossil fuel burning. the only uncertainties are exactly how much and how quickly.
    All science academies and research establishments around the world with any climate science expertise accept that we are the problem.
    Amongst other things, we urgently need to shift away from fossil fuel to renewable energy resources. In fact, science has calculated that we cannot afford to mine more than 20% of the KNOWN reserves of fossil fuel – let alone look for more! the 20% gives us a breathing space to shift to renewables if we get on with it.
    My advice to you – sell up your fossil fuel shares – even the big banks are starting to worry about their viability.

    So Peter, make a hero of yourself – wake up to reality, listen to the experts and the community and kick out Metgasco – we’ll support you all the way!

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