The state government yesterday renewed Metgasco’s Petroleum Exploration Licences 13 and 16, two of its key licences in the Lismore-Casino region. And it has issued the company’s first production licence for its previous test wells southwest of Casino, which will fire a 30MW power station in the area.
The government also lifted the moratorium on fracking and renewed a number of other CSG exploration licences across NSW.
On the same day, the government released its much-vaunted Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, which immediately faced a blizzard of opposition from a range of groups (see separate story page 2).
‘The NSW community should be confident now that yet another state government has thoroughly assessed the industry and given CSG a green light,’ Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said yesterday.
Earlier this year, Metgasco was found to be illegally dumping wastewater from the company’s holding ponds into the Richmond Valley Council sewer. The council was reprimanded over the incident but was subsequently given permission by the EPA to accept wastewater in the future.
The licence granted yesterday is in the same area where the infringements took place.
A Metgasco spokesperson told Echonetdaily the licence relates to a previous Part 3A ruling by the former state Labor government, which had already granted permission for the power station. He said the company did not yet have a time frame for full production.
A Lock the Gate Northern Rivers spokesperson described the licence renewals as ‘an insult to the communities of the region who are overwhelmingly opposed to the industry’, after 87 per cent of people voted no to CSG in the last week’s Lismore Council poll.
‘The state government has now clearly capitulated to the vested interests of the CSG industry through their politically connected lobbyists and abandoned the communities they are elected to represent,’ said the group’s Ian Gaillard.
‘In renewing Metgasco’s exploration licences the state government has given the green light to an industry that has no social licence to operate in the region and has taken scant notice of community input on the issue.’