TABLE DISCUSSIONS: Farmers Robert Lowrey and Tony Davis discuss local issues at the table where they formulated their letter.
TABLE DISCUSSIONS: Farmers Robert Lowrey and Tony Davis discuss local issues at the table where they formulated their letter. Samantha Elley

Farmers try to heal mining split

WHILE thousands of people turn out to dawn gatherings and famous musicians drop in unannounced, there is one group of people you won't see at the Bentley Blockade on Kyogle Rd.

They lend gravitas, however, to the opposition to gas wells in the area because they are the long- term residents and farming families of the district.

Long term farmers

Robert Lowrey and Tony Davis, both cattle farmers whose families have been farming the area since the late 1800s and early 1900s, represent about 30 farmers and their families in the Bentley area, who wrote their concerns to the media by way of a letter to the editor (published in RREE April 16).

Both Mr Lowrey and Mr Davis said reaction to the letter and their story in our sister paper The Northern Star seem to have struck a chord with people.

"We are concerned about the division between farmers and about actions perceived," Mr Lowrey said.

"We have got to live together when all this is over."

Taking heat off

Mr Davis said one of the goals of writing the letter was to take the heat off the many parties involved.

"We approached Bentley farmers and as soon as they saw our attempt to cool the situation they were interested," he said.

The farmers said their concerns lay with the Graham family, owners of the land where the Rosella test drill site will be, who have been friends for decades, Richmond Valley Council who have supported many community events including the Bentley Art Prize, and most of all the magnitude of the gas industry in the area.

"We cannot understand how this place can be a gas field," Mr Davis said.

"We thought the industry would be a small well in the corner of a paddock that would generate enough energy for Casino.

"Then to be economically viable it was to be exported through pipelines over the Border Ranges beyond what we envisaged."



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