Locals at Bentley west of Lismore were joined by anti coal-seam gas (CSG) campaigners on the weekend at the site of the proposed Metgasco gas-drilling well to map out a plan of resistance.
Around 80 people gathered at the site saying planned protest actions will draw hundreds to the grazing property in around eight weeks when the embattled gas company tries to set up its exploration well for what it says is ‘conventional gas’.
But CSGFree Northern Rivers spokesman Ian Gaillard told Echonetdaily the description is a misnomer as the controversial ‘fracking’ method of extraction was likely to be used if the pilot production well finds gas drilling there viable.
‘They’re looking for tight sands (sandstone) which require stimulation (fracking) and use of acidic chemicals,’ Mr Gaillard said.
‘Instead of preparing an exit strategy from the northern rivers where there is overwhelming opposition to CSG, Metgasco is seeking to using an exploration well to drill for tight sands.
Mr Gaillard said road works and pad construction for the gas-drilling site were expected to begin soon and drilling works around March-April.
Bentley locals and anti-CSG campaigners at the weekend assessed roads and public areas around the site for safe use during actions, and discussed strategy for non-violent peaceful protests when the works begin.
The company, which early last year put on hold its operations after massive community protests against its plans for CSG wells around the northern rivers, announced it would explore the Bentley site soon after the coalition won the federal election in September.
The move angered campaigners and communities, many of which had by then had officially declared themselves ‘gasfield free’ after street and road surveys and council resolutions in several shires.
The Metgasco plan and access for the Bentley exploration well was made after the landowner of the grazing property made a deal with the company and gave permission.