Richmond Valley Council won’t penalise coal-seam gas (CSG) miner Metgasco, despite its DA to operate wastewater ponds at Casino having lapsed.
Lock the Gate Alliance (LTG) announced yesterday that two wastewater holding ponds at Piora Quarry, containing potentially polluted water coming from the company’s CSG activities around Casino, are operating illegally.
According to Council documents LTG obtained under Government Information Public Access (GIPA) legislation, of the two ponds being operated by Metgasco at the Council-owned quarry, one was constructed without ever obtaining an approval and the other pond’s development consent expired in September 2010.
Gary Murphy, acting general manager of Richmond Valley Council, told the ABC’s Rural Report this morning that despite pressure from environmental groups, the council will not be issuing the company with a stopwork order, which it is entitled to do, as a new DA application has been submitted.
‘We have a policy that we need to follow in relation to unlawful activity, which needs to satisfy procedural fairness rules. So we issued a “show cause” letter to Metgasco which said, “you need to address that the consent for your use of this land has lapsed”, and it’s my understanding Metgasco have submitted a new development application to deal with its ongoing use of the land.’
In a statement, Metgasco denied illegal activity, saying that while the timing of the DA ‘appears to have expired’ the company was entitled to continue operations provided that they abided by the terms of the DA.
Boudicca Cerese, Lock the Gate Northern Rivers spokesperson said, ‘If Metgasco cannot comply with straightforward planning legislation how can the public trust them to conduct their potentially hazardous operations in ways which safeguard human health and the environment?’