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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

CSG opponents prefer political fix over blockade

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Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith, Greens mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham, and the Greens Dawn Walker with anti CSG activists at the Bentley site yesterday. (Supplied)
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith, Greens mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham, and the Greens Dawn Walker with anti CSG activists at the Bentley site yesterday. (Supplied)

Anti-gas activists are prepared to revive a blockade at Bentley but would prefer to work with politicians to ban coal seam gas mining from the area.

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Elly Bird told Echonetdaily that Richmond Valley Council’s announcement that a full development application would be required for the Bentley site was not a major problem.

‘We were on the way to doing just that last time so we wouldn’t be starting from scratch,’ Ms Bird said.

Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker told the ABC this week that it was unlikely a temporary approval would be granted for another protest camp at the Bentley site.

‘I’d be reluctant to go with a temporary approval this time given what we saw and how it grew – and the needs of a camp with cooking, ablutions, showering, garbage, all of the things that need to be put in place,’ Mr Walker said.

‘So I think given what we experienced last time we’re more likely to want a full-on development application before it could be considered.

‘So that takes a long time.’

Ms Bird said given the Richmond Valley Council had passed a motion saying the community was against fracking in the area, anti-gas groups expected that the council would support any future protest.

‘At this stage we’re not getting ready for a blockade because we are preferring to work with politicians to get the result,’ she said.

Meanwhile, the NSW Greens and supporters gathered at the Bentley site yesterday to launch a private members bill aimed at prohibiting coal seam gas mining across New South Wales.

Newly elected Ballina MP Tamara Smith and Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said it was time for NSW to move past the fractious coal seam gas debate, ban the industry and move forward with clean renewable energy projects.

They will introduce the Bill to the NSW Legislative Council on Tuesday, May 5 as their first act in the new parliament.

The Bill amends the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 by making it an offence to prospect for or mine coal seam gas and other unconventional gas in NSW.

They said the Bill does not directly cancel existing petroleum licenses, although it renders them useless, but it does give the Minister the ability to cancel licenses without compensation where it is in the public interest to do so.

This is done by reinstating the public interest test which was introduced by the government in 2013 but was subsequently repealed in 2014.

Ms Smith said her first action in Parliament would be to support the Bill.

‘The community blockade at Bentley showed that coal seam gas does not have a social licence in the northern rivers and I’m calling on the government to listen to the community and fix the laws,’ she said.

‘They can do that by supporting the Greens’ Bill.

‘We need to move on from this long running debate about coal seam gas and start building a clean energy future.

‘I will be strongly supporting community renewable energy projects and regional renewable energy solutions as the new member for Ballina.’

During the recent election campaign the NSW Labor Party, The Greens and Christian Democrat Party pledged to stop CSG mining in the region.

The National Party’s Thomas George, who narrowly won back his seat, also pledged to buy-back CSG licenses in the region.,


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  1. Sounds like these so-called environmental defenders, through a dirty and poorly regulated campsite, did more damage to the environment than any minor drilling operation could ever possibly do.

  2. Sounds like Alfons is rude, and ignorant,
    The camp site at Bentley was well regulated and complied with all council regulations. It is the “dirty and poorly regulated” CSG companies that are the real threat to life on the Northern Rivers of NSW.

  3. Alfons, you clearly weren’t there. The camp was brilliantly run and organisers went out of their way to comply with council requirements. It was neither dirty nor poorly regulated. I had to smile yesterday when I arrived out there at the sight of a very healthy pumpkin ripe for the picking from a vine that was probably planted last year. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘so-called’ environmental defenders? This is a passionate group of people that deeply cares about the environment – many like me over 50 with a lifetime of experience in working out what is worth truly fighting for. We want to see this country passed on in as good a shape as possible to the next generation. CSG and the risk it poses to our water, land and air is simply not an option if that is to happen.

  4. I don’t want to quibble with Alfons, which is clearly a waste of time. What I am seeing here, in the above article, is that the law about fracking is clearly “made up as we go along”
    I am totally confused with what the middle paragraphs have to say about the Bill not directly cancelling existing petroleum licenses but rendering them useless and that public interest gives the minister the ability to cancel those licences.
    Clearly, public interest has little influence over this rather dire situation due to the fact that public interest is being ignored from what I can see.
    So when licensing is cancelled it is rendered somewhat meaningless, because the next paragraph states that reinstating public interest was introduced by the government in 2013 but repealed one year later?
    Hello? It is obvious that people who are totally opposed to CSG (85-100% of the general public in Northern Rivers) have no leverage whatsoever in an asinine legal system which allows the powers that be to make it up as they go along!
    I am impressed that Ms. Smith would like to implement a renewable energy program but how do we go about doing that? How do we deal with the Fossil Monsters who will do everything in their power to ensure that no such program gets implemented? Is Ms. Smith alone in her proposal or are there any other politicians that support her plan? I pray there are.


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