That was then… the picnic atmosphere at Doubtful Creek protest site on Sunday.
Chris Dobney and staff reporters
State Forests personnel arrived at Metgasco’s next planned coal-seam gas test-drilling site at Doubtful Creek yesterday and police arrived at 6.30 this morning to smooth the arrival of the company’s drill rig from Glenugie.
Githabul tribal people and other protesters have been moved off adjacent land in Edens Creek Forest, despite the fact that it was handed back to them in 2007 under native title (indigenous land use agreement).
Indigenous people refused to move off their land and one was arrested, according to protester Iris Ray Nunn.
‘He is refusing bail conditions and will probably be held in police custody overnight,’ she told Echonetdaily this morning.
An estimated 30 personnel including 20 police are onsite this morning, Ms Nunn said, with around 25 protesters in attendance.
The state forest where protesters had been camping was closed yesterday afternoon and campers were given until 8pm to move out.
‘They said wanted to spray Zero on the weeds,’ Ms Nunn said.
The group refused and 20 police arrived 6.30am with chief inspector from Ballina.
‘Campers are relocating nearby and maintaining a vigil on the road verge outside the forest,’ she said
‘The access road has been leased to Metgasco and there is forest on either side of the access road. The road leads right to the drill pad, which is on privately owned property. The drill pad is in now. Police moved contractors in this morning to do work on the drill pad.’
CSG Free Northern Rivers believes Metgasco will try to bring in its rig from the Glenugie site on Thursday after undertaking further site preparation.
‘Daily trucks and Metgasco vehicles are likely,’ according to one Facebook post.
‘Fencing contractors and workers are through… Numbers needed every day ongoing. United we stand, Protecting Country, Our Land, Our Water, Our Air,’ it reads.
The atmosphere is very different from that of just two days ago, when protesters held a picnic on the site.
The 200-odd picnickers on Sunday included local farmers, Githabul traditional owners, and Kyogle residents, as well as friends from across the northern rivers, enjoy a barbecue, speakers and music as the local community prepares to defend their land from Metgasco’s planned CSG exploration operations.
Thousands of people recently took part in a survey in the Kyogle LGA area, including Doubtful Creek, with more than 92 per cent declaring that they want their land and roads to be CSG free.
‘The large gathering of these determined people here shows that this toxic industry is being forced on us; local people do not want it,’ said local resident Dean Draper.
‘The local farmers and residents want nothing to do with any industry that has the capacity to poison their land, water and air. We want to protect the health of our children, of our families.
‘My neighbours are coming together and discovering their common interest, which includes the preservation of their land, community, land values and lifestyles.
‘We want to protect jobs in the rural industry, tourism and many others that would be negatively affected if coal-seam gas mining were allowed to spoil this place,’ he said.
Meanwhile, a group of concerned northern rivers residents have taken their concerns to Macquarie Street, warning Sydneysiders that they can expect the riot squad on their doorstep if CSG wells are planned for their area.
They include Ian Gaillard, co-ordinator of CSG Free Northern Rivers, Lyndy Moss, a tea-tree and beef farmer from Glenugie, and Dr Marion Lloyd-Smith, who is a chemical regulatory expert with the National Toxics Network.
The group is calling on the NSW government to listen to the United Nations Environment Program, which recently stated, ‘… Unconventional gas production has the potential to generate considerable greenhouse gas emissions, can strain water resources, result in water contamination, may have negative impacts on public health (through air and soil contaminants; noise pollution), on biodiversity (through land clearance), food supply (through competition for land and water resources), as well as on soil (pollution, crusting).’
Ms Moss added that the use of the riot squad ‘is clearly not acceptable and has left local residents bruised and shocked and 25 arrested’.
‘I am really worried about the future of Australia when the government seems intent on riding roughshod over genuine community concern.’