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Byron Shire
December 7, 2023

Gasfields back on the agenda for northern rivers

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More than 5000 people rallied against CSG in the northern rivers at Lismore in October 2014 but the town is being left out of DPI's future consultations. Photo Darren Coyne.
More than 5000 people rallied against CSG in the northern rivers at Lismore in October 2014 but the town is being left out of DPI’s future consultations. Photo Darren Coyne.

The towns at the centre of the struggle against CSG two years ago have been left out of the Department of Planning and Environment’s consultation program for the state government’s draft North Coast Regional Plan.

The new plan, which specifically includes potential for future CSG exploration throughout the Clarence-Morton Basin, will be unveiled in consultation sessions at Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie during April but none are planned for any of the towns previously covered by CSG licences.

According to the plan, the NSW Department of Industry is ‘mapping coal and coal seam gas resources in the region.’

‘Once completed this information will inform future regional and local planning by providing updated information on the location of resources.’

This information can then be used to ‘support expansion of the sector’, the plan advises.

Lismore, Kyogle, Casino and Grafton have all been left off the list and Gasfields Free Northern Rivers (GFNR) thinks it knows why: because they represent the heart of resistance to the industry in the region.

They are also likely to be the towns most affected by any potential future development, simply because of the location of the basin.

Ironically, it was precisely such lack of community consultation that provided the wedge that finally drove the unlamented junior gas explorer Metgasco from the region.

GFNR spokesperson Ian Gaillard said the people of the Northern Rivers had already ‘resoundingly rejected the development of gasfields in our region’.

‘We are strongly committed to a healthy future for our region and we must be included in discussions that propose the re-introduction of CSG,’ Mr Gaillard said.

‘More than 95 per cent of people in 147 communities in the northern rivers have affirmed their opposition to invasive gasfields, and we aren’t going anywhere.’ he added.

‘We are astounded that this draft plan proposes CSG development despite the government spending more than $25 million, just four months ago, to buyback all of the licences from the Queensland border to Grafton.

‘There is nothing to prevent these licences being re-issued and this plan makes it look like that is exactly what the NSW Government is planning for our future. In fact, a specific target of the plan is to facilitate investment in the resources and energy sector.

‘How much more money is this government prepared to throw at a dead end industry, against the will of the community?’ Mr Gaillard asked.

‘The NSW government and northern rivers [National Party] local members claimed that the buy-back of licences across the region delivered on their promise of a gasfield free northern rivers, but the draft plan says nothing of the sort!’

‘References to CSG in the plan,’ he said, ‘undermine confidence and deter investment in our region by clean, healthy and sustainable industries.

‘It beggars belief that the people of the Northern Rivers would not be consulted when our determination to stay gasfield free has been so emphatic.’ Mr Gaillard said.

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  1. The National party must have a death wish if they think that the Northern Rivers community will accept CSG.
    It has already cost them 1 seat (Ballina) and nearly Lismore , and reduced thumping majorities in Tweed and Clarence.
    They can pass all the draconian laws they like , they will not intimidate this community

  2. What do the councellors in the northern rivers think they are doing! Exasperating to see they think they have an endless supply of clean uncontaminated water at their disposal.Have they not learnt from the mistakes of others in the same situation?? No need to wreck this area for maybe a small profit for a few in an area that is not viable in the long-term! If you are able to stop this from happening,please do!

    • Nicole, these negotiations have nothing to do with councillors in our region. They operate at Local Government level. I think you mean State Parliamentarians-specifically the Liberal/National Party. It is the NSW Baird (State) Government that legislate around CSG- not local councillors!

  3. “Never stand between a state politician and a bucket of money”
    We have all seen the outcome of the last foray, by local politicians into CSG . After their attempts, by dubious methods, to line their pockets were curbed by unprecedented public outcry. They were rewarded with $25,000,000 of public funds to not inflict this disaster on the public. Doesn’t it seem obvious that they will repeat this fabulously profitable ploy time and time again ? After all they didn’t even have to develop the infrastructure, they just threatened to do so .
    How much are you prepared to pay to buy them off this time ?

  4. Every day we hear of another record temperature; the Barrier Reef is showing record bleaching, Arctic and antarctic ice sheets are breaking down more than ever before, the Chinese and Indians are switching as fast as possible to renewables and planning even bigger cutbacks in coal and gas imports. Climate disasters and wild weather events are more frequent than ever, and yet still our coalition Governments (and Queensland) support the exploration and development of yet more fossil fuels!
    Hey, Guys (and Gals) in government, Wake up! read a bit outside your party manuals!
    Scientists calculate we can’t extract more than 20% of the reserves we already have – and you want to explore for more??
    We can generate more employment in renewable energy developments, and its cleaner and healthier for the workers, the community and the environment. No risk to water or health and no ongoing energy costs
    Give up on the past – the future lies elsewhere – Look Up, Not Down, for energy!.

  5. Given the plans for a major prison complex and “corrective services hub” in Pillar Valley near Grafton I worry they have every intention of trying to lock us all up. ?

  6. If the government re-issues the licenses for csg, despite their new laws and threats of large fines, the people will still unite against them. Why do politicians cling to the old fossil fuel to the detriment of the planet when the majority of the population are willing to embrace new technology which will make a livable planet for the coming generations.


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