Gas explorer Metgasco has put on hold its Supreme Court action against the state government over the suspension of its Bentley exploration licence.
The case was due to be heard in the Supreme Court on Friday but the company issued a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Monday saying it had reached a last-minute deal with the government to expedite a decision.
‘Metgasco has responded to a request by the NSW government and agreed to adjourn the first court hearing for its legal action from Friday June 13 until June 27,’ the statement reads.
‘This agreement was made following a commitment by the NSW government to use its ‘best endeavours’ to make a decision on whether to maintain the suspension of Rosella drilling approval by June 25 and to make available by June 20 the documentation used by the NSW government to make its suspension decision.’
The announcement has prompted the Greens to warn the government not to go soft on Metgasco now that the Bentley blockade has been disbanded.
‘The government should not do any deals with Metgasco and should uphold their decision to suspend gas exploration in northern NSW,’ said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
‘Regardless of the technicalities, it is clear that Metgasco do not have the support of the community and that the overwhelming opposition to gas drilling will not go away,’ he added.
But Metgasco said it will reserve the right to further action if the government does not respond in the agreed timeframe.
‘Metgasco has asked the Supreme Court to set aside the Office of Coal Seam Gas’s decision to suspend drilling of the Roeslla well,’ it said.
‘The grounds for Metgasco’s claim are that the decision was unlawful because it was not authorised by legislation, and was made without affording Metgasco procedural fairness.’
The statement goes on to maintain that Metgasco had met its community consultation obligations and adds the company retains its right to seek damages if the suspension is not lifted.