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Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Bentley earthworks plan sparks concern

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The Grahams' property at Bentley where earthworks may be imminent, according to reports.
The Grahams’ property at Bentley where earthworks may be imminent, according to reports.

Chris Dobney

Information that Metgasco may be planning to undertake earthworks at the Bentley property where its gas exploration licence is currently suspended is causing consternation among protesters, even though the works are apparently being undertaken on behalf of the landholder.

Echonetdaily understands that as part of access arrangements made between Metgasco and landholder Peter Graham, the company agreed to undertake earthworks on the property unrelated to its test well.

These include the construction of an access road and causeways at the back and fence realignment at the front.

A spokesperson for Richmond Valley Council told Echonetdaily this morning that, to her knowledge, there was no DA for outstanding works on the property.

She added that the planned work was limited to the ‘remediation of driveways into the property back to their original state’.

She said work was not planned on the property itself

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson told Echonetdaily the company had ‘done nothing at the Graham’s property other than inspect the mess and damage left after the supposed remediation of the site’.

‘Metgasco will assist the Grahams in any additional remediation and repair work that is needed,’ he added.

The move has sparked concerns by former Bentley protesters that the earthworks are a Trojan horse to provide easy access for earthmoving equipment to the site in case the current suspension is lifted.

One protester, who declined to be named, told Echonetdaily, ‘When people see a bulldozer working that site for any reason they are going to freak out’.

‘When Metgasco gets a bulldozer behind the fence line… what? They’re going to take it away again?’

A spokesperson for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers has called for calm while the group works through the issue with local police.

But he has also called on Metgasco to make a statement on the issue.

‘In recognition of Metgasco pulling out, it would be sensible of the Grahams to let the community know of any unrelated earthworks happening on their property so they don’t create a situation that might cause another blockade,’ Adam Guise told Echonetdaily this morning.

‘There needs to be a clear statement from Metgasco and the Grahams to assure the community that any proposed earthworks on the property aren’t to further gas drilling operations in the future,’ he added.

‘The community is eternally vigilant that any underhanded preparation for drilling could result in a huge community presence returning to the site.

‘We want a clear written statement from the minister that Metgasco’s operations are suspended indefinitely.

‘This community won’t rest until all licences in the northern rivers are cancelled.

Meanwhile he has urged the community to ‘keep calm’ and not to ‘go back into blockade mode’ yet.

‘Obviously if there’s silly business and Metgasco are looking to come back to drill the same site then there’s going to be huge uproar from the community and will result in a situation that’s a lot more tense than before,’ Mr Guise said.

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  1. “‘There needs to be a clear statement from Metgasco and the Grahams to assure the community”
    Get serious ! Nothing these two entities could say would have any credibility in light of the previous history of lies,corruption and ruthless profiteering.
    Perhaps a character reference from Eddie Obeid, Macdonald,Tripodi,Sinodinos,and some promises of environmental care from Kristina Keneally and Barry O’Farrell might put a few gullible minds at rest, but only if accompanied by a guarantee, of full and complete restoration of all environmental disasters, signed in blood by the Tooth Fairy.

  2. Come on. This is getting ridiculous.
    It’s his land and he gets to decide what he does with it within the letter of the law.
    Its a shame the rig weighs so much or I’d personally pay for it to be flown in just on principal!

    • Thanks for your generosity but we’ll deliver it for you Pete….next to your back yard. You’ll enjoy it better there.

    • WOW Pete! You are obviously not a community minded person who cares for our environment. Deciding what you want to do on your land as long as its “within the letter of the law” , that is a very broad and frivilous statement to make considering the outcome if Metagasco were legally allowed to drill on the Grahams land. Do you even live in the Northern Rivers? Do some reading to expand your very narrow mind….

    • Pete, that is a naive thing to say. ‘Ownership’ of land seems like a good concept initially if it comes with certain checks and balances but when what you do negatively effects others including other beings, then duty of care is imperative. Imagine the water in a river or the air above your property was seen as yours , would you be ‘allowed’ to pollute it? It’s about time people realise that we don’t own the land and have rights but are custodians with responsibilities.

  3. Why should the property owner give a statement on what happens on there OWN LAND??? if they want to build another driveway or what ever who cares its there own land they own it all you nature protectors do some research you dense minded people they were drilling for CONVENTIONAL GAS!!!
    You know the gas you hippies were using to cook your food out there why you Protested and what you have in your cars if you run l.p.g. gas WAKE UP!!

    • this well would still have required unconventional techniques such as fracking. bottled gas or lpg is a product of oil distillation. natural gas (methane) does not easily liquify. the end use of this gas would have been china. no benefit for us. no gas to cook our food. big profits to a few while we export climate change.

  4. “Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson told Echonetdaily the company had ‘done nothing at the Graham’s property other than inspect the mess and damage left after the supposed remediation of the site’.” Seriously? This is insulting, offensive and blatantly untrue.. Driving past the site I am astounded and impressed at the speed and thoroughness of the clean up job. Metgasco outdoes itself at putting the community offside every time it comments.

    • 100% agree Linda. I was amazed at the hard work that went into the clean up. If he wants to see a mess he only has to go to Kingfisher site near Casino airport. Best he clean up his own mess before he starts judging anyone else.
      And for all those who think we are dumb hippies. Perhaps they would like a well in their own backyard?
      Landholders do have rights but also responsibilities to the environment, neighbours, waterways etc. Do they think everything stops at the fence?!!

  5. More lies! This man can’t open his mouth without them pouring out!

    “Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson told Echonetdaily the company had ‘done nothing at the Graham’s property other than inspect the mess and damage left after the supposed remediation of the site”.

    Stupid man, we have the photos of before & after.

  6. This is just another example of Metgasco’s “community consultation”. I thought Peter Henderson was too busy ringing around radio stations complaining how his company and those poor shareholders have been hard done by. Those same shareholders who are conspiring on “MEL hot copper” forum on a daily basis to bring down certain people and are now stating they want ICAC to investigate SCU. Their name calling and insults have been nothing short of childish, they think our only knowledge of gas is from “Gaslands”.

  7. Hi Pete,

    I agree that this is getting ridiculous. If there is no DA it’s not within the letter of the law. Also, the State Government is supposed to legislate for the majority of the people and the majority of the people oppose a gasfield. Since the politicians are not standing up for community and writing laws against the majority then the only alternative is peaceful protesting to protect our land, water and way of life. The government is creating a police state where legislation is in favour of special interest groups like mining and timber companies and not for the constituents. The region already has established industries that have been running for generations. Tourism is the major drawcard for the region. We have both sides of state government accused of corrupt behaviour closely related to the resource industry. We have every right to doubt our government is looking out for our interests instead of mining companies. Steve Cansdell lied on a statutory declaration while police minister, admitted it and nothing happened. There continues to be evidence that there are rules for politicians, rules for mining companies that get a slap on the hand for poisoning our water and then there are rules for us. They give subsidies to polluting companies and tax the crap out of the low income earners. Not a fair democratic society they want to force us to live in and I think the Northern Rivers is saying that’s not going to fly any longer. If there is even a hint of works going on there I bet a few thousand of us will show up and remind them that No Means No!

  8. What exactly was meant by the comment “…..mess and damage after the supposed remediation of the site.” ?????

  9. Do you live next door to “his land and he gets to do what he wants with it”, Pete? If it is “within the letter of the law” to invite in an industry that spews poisonous chemicals into our waterways and lethal gas into our air, that makes it somehow ok?

    Is your hand up to invite this toxic nightmare into your own personal space? Some of us have compassion for our neighbours; not for the one, who is up for reaping financial gain at his neighbours’ expense, but for the many, who wish only to live where they live without having to watch their children’s health deteriorate, their lifestyle alter hideously and their property value plummet.

    Some of us give a damn about what impact our actions have upon those we love and those we don’t even know. Legal doesn’t equate to moral.

  10. So now you have to have a da for doing a driveway and fences
    I noticed that the amount of people advertising the lock the gate sign has dropped dramatically in my home area due to no one wanting to be associated with the types that were camped in our area and they have made me pro gas because I would rather a company that wants to invest in the plavce then dead head hippies moving here

  11. Lets not forget this company doesn’t care about this farmer this company is rubbing it greedy hands together and just hope to get in. We dont want metgasgo poison here never, there are better ways to create power and this is not the way.

  12. Tom!
    Please…I have a great respect for hippies but I am certainly far from one. Why is it that through history when a cross section of society opposes the status quo they are collectively labelled and marginalised? So that they can be oppressed as a minority group. The tragic reality of the consequences of this moves with us through time.
    The refreshing part of the anti CSG movement is that it represents the majority and it represents us all.
    As a landholder of many years out west and in this local area I do stand strongly for the right to manage my land.
    However, where my land management might affects the well being of the community that is a different issue. As famers we consider these issues within our management processes e.g. chemical spray drift. Keeping stock off roadways is one Mr. Robbie Graham has needed to consider more seriously over the years. Unfortunately, there have been times when certain farmers have not considered the wellbeing of the community. But one thing that has shone out in our region through this issue of Coal Seam Gas mining on prime agricultural land is the genuine care for the land that the majority of farmers hold and their important role as a part of our wonderful diverse community.
    I am very thankful to be a part of this and consider my role as a responsible farmer and citizen as a privilege.

  13. There is no such thing as Metgasco doing “unrelated” earthworks on the Bentley Blockade site. Any works performed on that site are related to the development of the gasfield. Anyone who kids themselves otherwise is buying the industry lie.

    Furthermore there is no distinction between the Grahams and Metgasco now. They are contracted to each other and have demonstrated serious unity of purpose in their determination to construct a gasfield on that site. Any talk of distinguishing between them now is either ingenuous or foolish and should not be given any credibility by those of us determined to stop the gasfield development.

    We are in danger of losing much of what was hard fought for and supposedly won if we buy that lie.


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