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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Mining camp plan for Bentley

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More than 800 people attended a meeting at Lismore Workers Club on March 11 opposing plans to drill an unconventional gas well at Bentley. Photo David Lowe
More than 800 people attended a meeting at Lismore Workers Club on March 11 opposing plans to drill an unconventional gas well at Bentley. Photo David Lowe

Chris Dobney

‘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.


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  1. Local member Mr.Hogan said “he did not support the industry but told the audience they shouldn’t commit illegal acts to oppose it.” And therein lies part of the problem. The constituency, supported by corroborated data , have identified CSG ( and other projects ) as an unacceptable activity. They have decided that it is not to take place in an area that they are responsible for. That message has been relayed to the managers ( MPs ) , in whom they have been obliged to place their trust, as an instruction. The managers have chosen to ignore that mandate. To support their position these reps engage the “rule of law” in criminalising opposition to what has not received “consent”. It is clear that there is a clear separation of the “Crown” from the “Commonwealth”. That is not supported in the 1901 Constitution Act. And as there is no consent there is no contract under any existing commercial statute. Any reasonable citizen action is therefore appropriate as they become the higher authority by default. The Parliament is acting in breach of trust and is therefore overruled. Easy. Listen to the people and do not generate an environment of distrust, distress and disapproval. And the inevitable response. Wings of the butterfly…

  2. Gas mining is environmental terrorism, any politicians who support the practice should be immediately dismissed, held in abuse of office, and charged accordingly and the peaceful inhabitants of this country should take all available steps to ensure this abuse of power by public trustees is curtailed and these ridiculous and completely unnecessary mining opperations are stopped

  3. What Dr Wom Bhatt and Max Igan said, not because I don’t have an opinion of my own, but because those sentiments are intelligent, responsible, and reasonable, unlike the very dangerous spin that Metgasco’s Peter Henderson and so many of our own oxygen-waster MPs espouse.

    How intelligent does one have to be to comprehend that our planet, and our species, depend on a respect for the environment in which we live.

    If our ‘representatives’ aren’t intelligent enough to understand that we cannot live without clean air, water and food, they have absolutely no right to assume positions of authority over those who do understand and adhere to basic survival principles!

  4. Does Kevin Hogan really expect us to just continue writing letters and emails to our MP’s while his government allows Metgasco to destroy our beautiful Northern Rivers? Well, do you know what Kevin? The politicians don’t even bother reading the letters! The replies they send are generic, they don’t attend to the queries raised at all.

    Unfortunately his government’s lack of honest response is forcing our people to have to respond with DIRECT ACTION if we want to keep our homes safe for ourselves and our future generations.

    Perhaps Kevin Hogan better hi tail it back to his new pollie mates and tell them we aren’t going to be sitting on our hands up here while that dodgy bodgy Henderson and Thomas George’s son, Stuart, get ready to frack the hell out of Bentley and poison the NorThern Rivers. This isn’t some country Hicksville that’ll put up with morons of their ilk, and this can’t be a dress rehearsal. Henderson said he wouldn’t bring his filthy industry here if we didn’t want it but he needs a bit of help to hear the word, NO.

  5. See you at the camp. Now is the time for the people of the Northern Rivers to show these Fossil Fools and their National Party MP supporters that we want a renewable energy future and a sustainable agricultural industry and not a toxic gasfield.

    Jeff Johnson


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