Will you show up? The Battle for Bentley is a battle for democracy and its corruption by corporate greed. Makers of this video have asked viewers to share it widely. Bentley, a beautiful primary produce area in the northern rivers water catchment, is right now the new frontline in the fight for fresh water, safe air and clean soils in the whole of NSW. Metgasco hopes to turn this precious part of our region into an industrial gasfield and over time sink 1,000 wells.
[Update noon Monday] A large chunk of an estimated 2,000 people who descended on Bentley, west of Lismore, this morning to protest against gas miner Metgasco’s controversial plans to turn the area into a gasfield, have started to disperse.
Many at the blockade campsite expected drilling trucks and equipment to arrive at the test-drilling site today, but as that looked unlikely as the day wore on, protesters began to return to their homes or jobs.
The buildup of protesters at dawn each morning to confront the drilling-truck convoy is to continue and set to be part of the daily routine at Bentley.
A core group of more than 100 protesters remain at the camp and set to stay there for days if not weeks.
CSG Free Northern Rivers’ Boudicca Cerese told media it was ‘incredibly inspiring’ to see so many people brave the rain and mud this morning to show support for the blockade.
Bentley resident Liz Stops said many locals had joined the blockade ‘to try to protect the valuable farmland and quiet rural lifestyle that we value so much from invasive gas fields’.
‘In a survey undertaken in our local area 84.5 per cent of 266 residents said that they do not want to live in a gas field,’ Ms Stops said.
‘The property owner where the drilling is scheduled to occur does not even live here.
‘It is the rest of us whose home it is who will have to live with the consequences of this industry,’ she said.
‘People do not want this industry here and they’re not going to let it happen,’ Ms Cerese said.
Anti-coal-seam gas campaigners say Metgasco will use unconventional extraction methods similar to those used to extract coal seam gas, and involves large numbers of wells, extensive infrastructure, and risky fracking processes.
Bentley farmer and Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer Craig Armstrong said the RFS ‘hierarchy’ had overruled members who voted not to allow their fire station to be used as a police command centre during the drilling.
Mr Armstrong told ABC north coast that the land for the RFS station was donated by his family and is surrounded by the property earmarked for gas-exploration drilling by Metgasco.
He said he was ‘stunned’ that the company proposes to drill so close to his family farm and against the wishes of locals.
Mr Armstrong said underground water contamination by the drilling process was one of his biggest fears as the family farm depended on bore water for aquaculture.
He said he couldn’t believe the drilling was still going ahead despite the concerns of surrounding farmers.
Bentley landholder Ross Joseph said locals were ‘enormously grateful that 2,000 committed citizens from across the northern rivers have come to join us to protect our beautiful region from the impacts of gas industrialisation.
CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesman Aidan Ricketts said protest organisers had been working closely with police to ensure public safety during the blockade.