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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Battle for Bentley: 2,000 protectors on site

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Bentleytripod
Lee up a pole look over the crowds at Bentley this morning. Photo Jeff ‘I’m a crow’s pest’ Dawson.


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.

CSG BEntly 2
The looks on some of the faces says it all: Metgasco wants to turn the northern rivers into an ugly gas land. Photo Jeff Dawson

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.

Bentleyroberts
Some of the large crowd at the campsite this morning. Photo Jeff Dawson.

‘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.

 


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10 COMMENTS

  1. What an amazing morning 🙂
    Lets keep up the pressure. Please, please come out if you haven’t already. It’s a great vibe and will warm your heart. We have the power :))

  2. I’ve stopped supporting the RFS by buying raffle tickets etc since they supported the police at Doubtful Creek by using their resources to feed the cops. They should be supporting the “Protectors”! Tell the RFS to stay out of it !

  3. Well done protectors and supporters – stay strong & Metgasco will have to give up eventually. Our local MPs and the Government will get the message loud and clear at the next election – hopefully not once it is too late for the beautiful Bentley area and watercourses.

  4. Instead of looking after the residents of the North Rivers, Don Page the minister in name only is instead busing in hundreds of police to try and help the miners outs. Geoff Provest as the parliamentary secretary for emergency services is doing his bit for Metgasco by allowig police to use the Rural Fire Service land. The National Party stand condemned.

  5. thanks Echo Net daily for keeping me informed. I’m a pensioner, not feeling fit enough to attend, but I’ve been using social media to share news of Bentley about, have donated to the crowd funding for CSG Free Northern rivers, and while I don’t have tV, I’m appreciative of the Echo’s links and information – stick with it please.
    Susan

  6. Thank you to The EchoNet Daily for providing coverage of the local community efforts to repel this gas invasion of the Northern Rivers.

    If Metgasco are allowed to drill this exploration well, and the results provide them with any encouragement then, according to Peter Henderson (Metgasco CEO) you can expect to see another 1,000 such wells as they move into the production phase.

    The NSW government needs to start listening to local communities. It is not enough that two individual companies (AGL and Origin) sign up to a non-binding agreement to not enforce arbitration on some landowners.

    That agreement does not affect the Northern Rivers and it does not address the demand from communities to have a real say in deciding the direction, scope and scale of local development (especially in relation to Gasfield Developments).

    Local National Party state MPs, like Thomas George (Lismore), Chris Galuptis (Clarence), Don Page (Ballina) and Geoff Provest (Tweed) need to start listening to the communities they claim to represent rather than listening to the mining companies.

    Various surveys, using a variety of methodologies, are all coming up with the same answer. The communities of the Northern Rivers do not want this industry to get established here. The 2,000 people who came out to protect Bentley this morning shows that, not ny do they not want it, that they will act to stop the industry coming here.

    Metgasco (and Dart Energy who hold PEL 445) need to develop an “exit strategy” to withdraw from the Northern Rivers.

    The NSW Coalition (Liberal/National) government need to pull the police out of the Northern Rivers. It is an absolutely outrageous proposition that the NSW Police should be able to be used as the private security firm for a company to undertake activities in a local community that does not want them here!

    They are supposed to be about protecting community – not overriding and oppressing communities.

    If any residents of the Northern Rivers are unsure what to do then the answer is simple:

    The time is NOW!

    Get out to Bentley and stop the development of industrialised gasfields in the Northern Rivers. If you wait until they get to your community it may well be too late.

    Michael McNamara
    Lock The Tweed

  7. I am just crying, you peoplw make me so very proud, your courage, energy and self sacrifice. Stay strong and together.

  8. Thanks for voting for mother earth, thanks for standing with her against the greedy 1%. You are an inspiration. I am a kiwi living in the land of milk and honey as has been oft said of Aotearoa, I am proud that my brother Gwilym and Judi (a knitting Nana) are standing up for the good of future generations on this issue. We have a small amount of this ghastly business going on here, and we also have off shore drilling by Anadarko a big American company that has been exposed as setting up a bogus company to take over all the serious stuff ups they have done and let that company go broke so they pay nothing in compensation. They now have to pay $6b although the cean up over 85 years amounted to $29b! A dam disgrace.

    Great video.

    Kia kaha
    stand strong
    Bronwen

  9. Do you have an online objection form that can be presented to our local members or court noting names and addresses of all those against gas mining in the northern rivers? If you do I would like to sign and contribute.

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