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Byron Shire
November 29, 2023

Richmond Valley reverses stand, rejects gas mining

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Supporters at the recent Bentley blockade. Richmond Valley Council has now reversed its stand and wants the shire Gasfield Free.
Supporters at the recent Bentley blockade. Richmond Valley Council has now reversed its stand and wants the shire Gasfield Free.

A packed gallery at last night’s Richmond Valley Council meeting erupted into applause when councillors emphatically passed a motion opposing unconventional gas mining and fracking in the shire.

The move, which followed impassioned pleas by Richmond Valley residents, brings Richmond Valley into line with all other north coast councils which have declared their opposition to the coal seam gas (CSG) industry getting a foothold in the area.

Mayor Ernie Bennett and Cr Col Sullivan were the only two to vote against the move in the 5-2 vote.

The news of the turnaround in council’s stand on gas mining has spread quickly, given Richmond Council gave the Bentley blockade protest against Metgasco’s drilling plans a hard time with threats over illegal camping and its general support for the miner against the wishes of locals.

The reversal in council’s previous position follows the June meeting when Cr Robert Mustow received unanimous support for council to review the policy.

Deputy mayor Sandra Humphrys accepted Gasfield Free declarations  from the community of  Codrington, following their celebration on the weekend after 93 per cent of Codrington voted to remain Gasfield Free.

Richmond Valley resident Eric van Beurden, who was at the meeting, told Echonetdaily it was heartening to see that council has listened to locals’ concerns and ‘taken a stand in support of the stated wishes of the vast majority of their constituents’.

‘Several speakers presented summary results from all community surveys in the shire at the meeting, showing that between 85 per cent and 93 per cent of Richmond Valley residents want to remain Gasfield Free,’ Dr van Beurden said.

‘Councillors at last night’s meeting spoke about changing their position from one of neutrality to one of opposition based on several things, including widespread community opposition and information now available on the risks of unconventional gas mining,’ he said.

Dean Draper, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson, said ‘this is a watershed moment for local communities in the Richmond Valley and sees Richmond Valley Council join other councils across the northern rivers who have stated their opposition to this unsafe industry’.

‘The turn-around in council’s position is a direct response to the dedicated actions of local community members who have been tireless in their efforts to raise awareness about the risks of this industry and seek support from council to represent their concerns,’ Mr Draper said.

Last night’s resolution read:

‘That the Richmond Valley Council believes that given its current understandings and existing knowledge base around the unconventional gas industry, the potential effects on the environment, the uncertainty surrounding fracking and the strongly expressed community views against the unconventional gas industry that it cannot support the development of the unconventional gas industry in this local government area at this time.  Further to this, that Council affirms its strong opposition to fracking in any form.’

(For vote: Crs Hayes, Humphrys, Morrissey, Mustow, Simpson).



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  1. Congratulations to RVC for “getting in step” with the opinions of their rate payers – for too long they have been a suspicious stand-alone in the Northern Rivers.

  2. RVC was the last outpost of NR support for CSG. Now the curtain has been pulled back, we can all see the puppet master with his broken strings. Congratulations to those brave citizen activists of Casino who demanded democracy from their councillors and in doing so, exposed the powerlessness of the tyrant and his lackeys. Casino will never be the same again- grassroots democracy is addictive!

  3. Fantastic news. Well done to the RVC Councillors, and to all the wonderful people who lobbied for this resolution.

  4. Shame on you Ernie Bennett for not voting against CSG! How can you possibly go against the wishes of the community you are supposed to be acting for. Start looking for your next job. Im sure your CSG mates could find you something. You should stand down now.

  5. Despite all these developments Metgasco and the gas industry dont want to swallow the truth. To deny the undeniable is frankly pathetic Mr Henderson.The communities and councils of Northern Rivers do not welcome gas and given the invasive and extensive operations it is now more clear than ever.Its time to address this issue to the shareholders and leave.


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