CSG activists keeping watch

PRIVATE EYES: Phillipe Dupuy, Dean Draper and Daniel-John Peterson with the Northern Rivers Community Watch van, keeping an eye on CSG companies operating in the region.
PRIVATE EYES: Phillipe Dupuy, Dean Draper and Daniel-John Peterson with the Northern Rivers Community Watch van, keeping an eye on CSG companies operating in the region. Patrick Gorbunovs

ANTI-CSG activists this week launched a surveillance operation, led by a white van marked 'Patrol Unit 1' which organisers claim will be monitoring Metgasco activities with video equipment and laptops.

The initiative, dubbed Northern Rivers Community Watch, is using unmarked private vehicles plus its flagship van to check on each of the Metgasco drilling sites on a daily basis.

Organiser Daniel-John Peterson said the group would not be interfering with Metgasco's operations.

"This is not a blockade vehicle… we have set guidelines and rules that we follow among ourselves governing our behaviour when we're associated with this van," Mr Peterson said.

He said the group was filling a gap left by the lack of effective monitoring by taxpayer funded environmental watchdogs.

"We're not here to be some sort of authority or enforce any laws... but what you're seeing in this van is an indication of community frustration and disempowerment with organizations like the EPA."

Metgasco managing director Peter Henderson said Metgasco has "no problems" with the surveillance vans and that the company had "nothing to hide".

"Where we have a problem is if environmental activists break the law in their activities," Mr Henderson said.

Last week the Australia Petroleum Production and Exploration Association released a report calling for a reduction in "red and green tape" for the oil and gas industry.

The report emphasised a need for streamlining approvals.

Mr Page has arranged a meeting in partnership with MP Thomas George and four other ministers at Lismore City Hall at 10am on Wednesday at which a group of scientists will address those with concerns in relation to CSG.

"I would encourage anyone who has concerns to attend that meeting," Mr Page said.

He also defended the recently released NSW CSG policy.

"A lot of consultation went into the development of that policy and a whole lot of preventative measures have been put in place ... it's all got to be done without any threat to the water supplies."

Topics:  coal seam gas, metgasco, northern rivers community watch



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