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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Richmond Valley Council rules out fracking

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A banner that was hung at the Bentley gas well site . Photo Marie Cameron
A banner that was hung at the Bentley gas well site . Photo Marie Cameron

Darren Coyne

The state government is waiting to consider a report from the Office of Coal Seam Gas (OSCG)  on whether it should lift the suspension of Metgasco’s drilling licence for Bentley, just outside Lismore.

And while anti-gas protesters were hoping to hear the result today, a spokesperson for NSW resources minister Anthony Roberts told Echonetdaily the announcement would be made public as soon as the government and Metgasco have been informed.

‘Tonight the office of coal seam gas through its director will release its determination of the suspension and what will occur from then and the minister’s office will make an announcement,’ he said.

‘A media briefing will most likely take place in the morning.’

The announcement will follow a meeting of the Richmond Valley Council last night at which councillors voted unanimously to revisit the council’s ‘positioning statement’ on coal seam gas, and to voice its opposition to any form of fracking within its local government area.

Having had mining company Metgasco based in Casino for a number of years, Richmond Valley Council earlier this year had declared ‘neutrality’, taking the position that the mining industry was a state government responsibility.

It was becoming increasingly isolated on the issue as Ballina, Byron, Lismore and Tweed councils have all sent letters to premier Mike Baird, ministers and local MPs asking that the region, or their local government area, be declared gas-free.

And while not going that far, Cr Robert Mustow brought the issue to the table with a notice of motion.

“I am aware there are many different views. Many are against the industry, some don’t want fracking and some do want gas exploration.

Cr Mustow said the gas industry was still a matter for the state government to regulate, but the recent suspension of Metgasco’s drilling licence and the views of a range of stakeholders warranted a review of the council’s position.

‘We can’t stop it or start it … it comes down to the minister and the state government, he said.

‘This motion will no doubt be of concern to industry, not to have fracking in the area, but I still think the industry is entitled to come and put its position on fracking so council can get information.

‘It doesn’t hurt to have knowledge for the future.’

Cr Sandra Humphrys said it ‘hasn’t been easy being a leader in our community with the gas issue’.

It has to be acknowledged that there are significant number of people who support the industry and economic benefit. I’m not one of those, but we can’t ignore that those people exist.’

She said it was apparent however that the majority of communities in the area do not want CSG ‘and I don’t want Richmond Valley to be in isolation’.

She said a recent vote at a gathering of 800 mayors and councilors had gone against banning CSG.

‘Maybe the state government should limit licences to those communities who demonstrate an unwavering desire to have the industry,” she said.

Cr Daniel Simpson said there was a perception that Richmond Valley was a supporter of the industry.

‘We’ve never supported gas. And while some here in the gallery may perceive that we have, we’ve never supported gas,’ he said.

Cr Col Sullivan said he had no objection to the motion but had real concerns about councillors changing their minds.

Cr Mustow responded: We’re not changing our minds … we’ve never supported it’.

‘I think the community is entitled to know where we stand.’

The council will consider the matter again at its August meeting.


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10 COMMENTS

  1. OK lets rewrite History !
    And……it’s great to see RVC has never supported CSG nor given tremendously one-sided approvals to Metgasco or even removed safety features built for the safety of the public at Bentley.
    Perhaps there is already something in the water at RVC meetings.

  2. And what, prey tell, do Mr Bennett and Mr Walker think of this new development? RVC Councillors in General may not have been in favour of Metgasco but they sure as hell haven’t been running the show. Mr Sullivan’s comment is quite correct. This is definitely a change. RVC Councillors best duck for cover if they run into any of Metgasco’s beneficiaries, they can be a vindictive lot.

  3. Three cheers to Councilor Mustow for breaking Richmond Valley Council’s the cone of silence on gas mining by initiating a review of their position on gas mining.
    Yesterday three other councillors also expressed long-held concerns about the potential dangers of gas mining. They too deserve congratulations because it was quite clear that until then, they had been fearful of doing so.

    Why is that? Who, or what, has been instilling sufficient fear in them for them not to speak out when they considered their own community to be under threat?…and, if they have changed their minds, why on earth should anyone be concerned about that? Shouldn’t we all be prepared to change our minds?…especially when danger looms….and especially when we have accepted a position of responsibility for others?

    Yes these are big challenges for Mayor Bennett and Manager Walker and those councillors who have previously shown their support for the gas industry. However, I’m confident their intelligence and experience will now come to the fore in the light of the ever-increasing opposition, indicated by the latest community actions and surveys, and especially the latest scientific evidence.

    I’m sure that if they now take the brave step of declaring Richmond Valley Gas Field Free, regardless of what the NSW Goverment decides today, their community will consider them heros.
    Please do it before its too late.

  4. I am constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge of the onshore gas industry, which is essentially a property theft process, with massive scale industrialisation, not to mention the definite and inevitable contamination of our under ground water and air with petroleum hydrocarbons. It amazes me that people still don’t understand that the stuff is not pure ‘clean burning’ methane, and that mobilised hydrocarbons from the coal seam, or worse, added fracturing chemicals if shale or tight sands are involved, will move into our water and be vented and flared into or air. This industry is a dirty, filthy oil and has industrial process and is NOT compatible with the multi crop agricultural nature of our northern rivers community, nor with tourism which our economy is built on. This industry can damn well stay outback or offshore and away from our fertile food growing land, our residential areas, our water catchments, our aquifers and our state forests. It quite simply is madness in settled NSW and Victoria. Moreover, I am disgusted that the backers of Metgasco, ERM and the like, and ex politicians can possibly think that your greed can come at our expense.

  5. What a real backflip by RVC, I dont suppose it has anything to do with realising they were on a losing team, to late, as voters do have long memories. A disgraceful bunch who refused to listen, who refused to help, a bunch of puppets who will look elsewhere come the next election.

  6. By your actions let you all be judged. Give up your motor vehicles, gove up your use of electricity . These forms of energy all put the environment at risk and yet you continue to use them. I will not be convinced of your standpoint until you cease to use these modern conveniences which put the environments of others at risk. Until then you are clearly all plain hypocrites without a jot of integrity in your position.

    • Still waiting for a reply when you challenged me to discuss these issues on these pages a while back!

      Anyhow, as you are aware, this argument is reductio ad ridiculum, also known as the appeal to ridicule: “Appeal to Ridicule is based on highlighting the counter-intuitive aspects of the argument to make it appears foolish as it looks clearly contrary to common sense. The argument’s logic is presented in an extremely absurd way and sometimes oversimplified. This process involves Appealing to Consequences. … An evil character can use this fallacy to get a laugh out of the uneducated masses while dismissing his opponent’s views”

      Let’s remind everyone of YOUR position on/in the Fiasco and thereby give some explanation for your use of such flawed debating technique – “(Stock Held; Long Term Buy)”.

      The Fiasco was a SELL at 23c (when you and your fellow self-help group members were truly buoyant), it was a SELL when you all subscribed to the last CR (and were all positively frothing at the mouth when the lack of social licence was mentioned), and it’s a SELL now as it’s limited funds are being spent on lawyers and PR firms.

      (Perhaps if a $mill or so had been spent on PR earlier, the Fiasco may have realised it was backing a loser – (although that’s something you and your associates seem happy to do!))

  7. I was fascinated to read of Councillor Daniel Simpson’s interesting claim that Richmond Valley [Council] has “never supported gas”.

    Whoops!

    Perhaps a little historic review might be helpful here.

    On the 9th of April 2010 Richmond Valley Council made a presentation at a Regional Development Australia meeting at the RSM Club in Casino. Invitation only.

    At that meeting Council clearly identified “Gas Development” as a ‘Significant Venture and Priority’ for “Council’s Economic Development Strategy 2010-2015”.

    And here is what is printed in one of two council glossy brochures prepared for the occasion:
    “Gas Development – Casino
    . Opportunities – Metgasco gas production
    . Challenges – infrastructure for reticulation, capital investment, retailer, demand gap
    .Solutions – Government, private & agency sector intervention and investment”

    In the accompanying glossy brochure Council identified “seven immediate priorities that are deemed essential by participants to the various consultation processes to creating an environment for economic development in the Richmond Valley”. Gas was at the head of the list: “3.1 Phase One- Gas Reticulation Project”.

    Council set up the consultation processes by invitation. The wider community knew nothing about these consultations but Council was, unmistakably, taking the lead, with a selected few.

    And then there was the resolution of Council (151209/25) in December 2009 that the “General Manager be authorised to submit an application…..for any opportunities relating to the gas industry that are considered appropriate” (Cr Mustow/Cr Morrissey).

    And there’s more, lots more.

    So when was it that Richmond Valley Council “…never supported gas”?!!

    • Judge for yourselves!:

      The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: My question is to Mr Halcrow. Considering that the
      Richmond Valley Council was the only Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils member to put a
      submission to the inquiry that was supportive of coal seam gas, and I note it is the only representative here who did not send an elected member, how does the council reconcile its submission, which is supportive and indicates it has been a long-term supporter of coal seam gas, with the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils submission that we have just received that raises a whole range of social, economic and environmental concerns about coal seam gas?
      Mr HALCROW: In my opinion the council as a council is entitled to its own opinion. In that regard it
      has raised that and made that submission on its own behalf. I am not privy to the discussions of Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils or what occurred at that meeting that made a decision to do so. We have representatives on the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils. I am not one of them. But all I can say is the council chose really to make a submission on the basis that it is supportive of qualified industry development because of the benefits that it perceives for its community.

      Inquiry Into CSG hearings, 21/9/11

  8. A) ‘Gov’ says no to The Fiasco: Their shares erode even further, they stubbornly proceed to court which will force all of their criminal and evasive affairs into the light of day – including that of OSCG and corruption ties. Prosecution ensues. Game over for Gas Industry, and share confidence in general, with a crippling ripple effect to the industry worldwide.
    B) Gov says yes to The Fiasco: All hell breaks loose as community protests flood every possible avenue of appeal, politiicans lose all public confidence, Bentley Fortress is sealed by Protector. It becomes clear a stalemate will occur as mining cannot proceed and Fiasco lose buckets of money by the day.Police are unwilling to physically remove the Protectors given the variety of potential consequences revealed last time .Share price dissolves to nothing as it becomes clear no gas is ever going to be claimed by The Fiasco. National CSG industry becomes genuinely fearful of the dangerous precendent now established by people power. Northern Rivers Community launches Class Action against The Fiasco. Game Over

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