Metgasco’s planned seismic testing at Rock Valley cannot go ahead, according to Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell, because it flies in the face of a council resolution from 2011 that prevents CSG exploration on land the council owned or controlled.
The process of seismic testing involves sending pulses from a cable dragged along a roadway to essentially ‘map’ the subsoil structures below.
Mayor Dowell told Echonetdaily this morning that council had legal advice that its resolution was sound but that if Metgasco had conflicting advice the matter could end up in the Land and Environment Court.
Cr Dowell said a senior council officer had received a phone call from Metgasco ‘to advise us that they intended to commence seismic testing on Rock Valley Road reserve by around mid November.
‘The council staff member has advised them in an email following that phone call that council has this resolution, that we have legal advice that we can refuse permission and that any request by them should be in writing,’ the mayor said.
‘One of the issues is that legal opinions differ. We’ve got advice to say that we can refuse. Clearly Metgasco does not believe that we do have the right to refuse. So if Metgasco wishes to challenge that, they may appeal to the Land and Environment Court but of course we hope that it doesn’t come to that.
‘We hope that the state government negotiations with Metgasco resolve things before it comes to any court action – or possible conflict on the ground between community members and Metgasco,’ Cr Dowell said.
She also welcomed a statement by NSW premier Mike Baird on ABC radio this morning that negotiations between the two parties were continuing and that ‘he was hopeful that it would not come to action by Metgasco to do any work.’
‘We are hoping this is resolved at the Sydney level between Metgasco and the state government. It’s very clear that the majority of our people do not want any activity here. It’s also very clear that the majority of National Party representatives in this region see it as a no-go zone for coal seam gas and unconventional gas,’ the Labor mayor said.
Premier Baird told ABC radio this morning, ‘We inherited a licence without protections in any way, without the community’s support.’
‘Obviously it’s up to us now to clean that up, and we are in negotiations with Metgasco and obviously we have to keep that confidential as we go through that,’ the premier said.