‘The only way unconventional gas mining will be defeated in our region is if very single person who opposes the practice spends time at the Bentley test drill site in coming weeks.’
That was the message from Lock the Gate spokesperson Ian Gaillard at Tuesday night’s meeting at Lismore Workers Club, which drew a crowd of more than 800 people.
Mr Gaillard told the meeting that junior gas company Metgasco plans to build a mining camp for 24 staff at its Bentley site ‘because they see there will be difficulty getting through the protest lines’ during its planned test-drilling program next month.
A development application for the camp, which will be considered by Richmond Valley Council next Tuesday, requests 13 additional truck movements onto the site to put in the camp, plus a generator to supply power.
It seeks permission to operate for 52 days.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers already has a council-approved camp set-up adjacent to the site, which Mr Gaillard implored people to visit.
‘We’re asking people to come and visit the site before all the action happens so people can make themselves familiar with the lay of the land,’ he told Echonetdaily last night.
Tuesday night’s meeting also heard from: Dr Marion Lloyd Smith, senior adviser to the National Toxics Network; Dr Wayne Somerville, who has written a health report on people living near gasfields; Leigh Shearman, a Bentley dairy farmer Norco board member; SCU law lecturer Aidan Ricketts, as well as LTG spokespeople Boudicca Cerise and Mr Gaillard.
Federal Page National Party member Kevin Hogan told the meeting he had spoken in parliament about coal seam gas and discussed the issue with other Nats MPs and members of the government.
He said he did not support the industry but told the audience they shouldn’t commit illegal acts to oppose it.
In response to Mr Hogan’s plea Mr Gaillard told Echonetdaily, ‘one would have to say if this industry is being sanctioned by government then it is legalised destruction of the environment, and the people who take direct action are in fact standing up for natural law.’
He said the main purpose of the meeting was to ‘continue the conversation of what we’ve found out and what we’re expecting to do, and as a motivation for people to get connected to what we’re doing at Bentley’.
He added that a hot topic was the recent revelation of uranium pollution of an aquifer by Santos’s Pilliga CSG testing, which was ‘referred to constantly throughout the night’.
‘Aidan Ricketts said you could be caught speeding to the Pilliga and get a bigger fine than Santos got from the EPA,’ he said.
Speaking to Echonetdaily from the protectors’ camp at Bentley last night, Mr Gaillard reinforced his message that people need to get involved.
‘It’s all very well hearing how terrible [unconventional gas] is but unless people come out and do something about it, there’s no one else to do it.
‘It’s clear the government and the company are keen to press ahead.’
‘If people are against this industry, they need to be here. When you come to the camp you can get on an alert and be notified when there is action opposing all work in establishment and drilling of the Rosella well.
Mr Gaillard said there is an information tent at the site where people can find out more.