Plans by gas explorer Metgasco to build a temporary donga village to house 24 workers at its Bentley test drill site should be rejected, say Gasfield Free Northern Rivers
The group recently had its own ‘primitive camp site’ approved by Richmond Valley Council (RVC), but food preparation and shower facilities were banned from the site.
By comparison, Metgaso’s proposal, which will be considered by the council’s development assessment panel today, involves bringing in three twelve-metre ‘dongas’ (containers fitted out as living quarters), and will include a gym, kitchen, cold room, bar, toilets and showers, as well as the sleeping accommodation, and will need to be powered by diesel generators running 24 hours a day.
Richmond Valley Council’s GM John Walker indicated today that the application would likely be approved and also flagged that he would consider withdrawing Gasfield Free Northern Rivers’ existing permit on the grounds of parking violations.
Lock the Gate Regional coordinator, Adam Guise said the application was ‘a blatant perversion of a “temporary camp ground” application.’
‘Whereas the community went through an arduous process to get approval for a legitimate camp ground on private land approximately 1km from the site, Metgasco are trying to pass off a donga village for a camp ground. This is outrageous and shows complete disrespect for the approvals process.’
He also attacked Metgasco’s proposed sewage waste management process and its plan to host a bar serving alcohol on the worksite.
‘The proposal to “irrigate” sewage waste generated from the donga village onto surrounding farmland is an example of Metgasco’s outrageous waste management practices, and should not be allowed. In fact, their application should be outrightly rejected for even proposing such a practice,’ Mr Guise said.
‘The onsite bar is another example of Metgasco setting this community up for conflict. How does a bar lead to a safe work environment, or mitigate drunken behavior or violence?’ he asked
‘In contrast, the community camp has a no drug and alcohol policy which is strictly enforced.’
‘This onsite worker accommodation demonstrates that Metgasco are not interested in employing local workers, and are instead importing workers and imposing potential conflict upon the local community.’
Mr Guise said that given the proposed camp ground would be equidistant from Casino and Lismore, Lismore City Council should also be asked to consider the application.
He said, the application ‘should be rejected outright, and Metgasco made to submit a development application that more clearly represents what they are constructing – a temporary donga village to house non-local workers while they drill on farmland against the wishes of the community.’
Richmond Valley Council GM John Walker described the applications as ‘totally different’, saying Metgasco has put in a development application for a ‘temporary campsite’ as opposed to a ‘primitive campsite’, which is what Gasfield Free Northern Rivers applied for.
He added that he was not aware of a bar being included in the application.
Mr Walker told ABC Radio this morning that the group were ‘breaching the conditions of their approval every day and are in danger of having their approval withdrawn.’
He said that cars were parked ‘all over Kyogle-Lismore Road [and] all over the side roads, and they’re erecting structures on the road reserve, all of which is specifically contrary to the conditions of the approval.’
Mr Walker said Lismore City Council had said they wanted no involvement in considering Metgasco’s application because the land lay well outside its boundaries.
He added the application was ‘likely to be approved’ as a ‘valid and legal use of land’.