Anti-CSG protester chains himself
AN East Lismore man was arrested and charged by police Wednesday after chaining himself to a bulldozer at the site of a holding pond being built by coal seam gas company Metgasco.
The arrest is believed to be the first in NSW in relation to an anti-coal seam gas protest.
Local musician and fourth-generation resident Davey Bob Ramsay, 38, chained himself to the bulldozer on a farm at Shannonbrook, about 7km south-west of Casino before dawn. The site is home to an existing holding pond as well as the pond under construction.
Mr Ramsay's aim was to "highlight the threats posed by coal seam gas wastewater to land and water in the Richmond Valley".
About 50 protesters supported Mr Ramsay's action which ended about 10.50am when police cut the chain attaching him to the bulldozer.
"We're here because the NSW Government promised to ban evaporation ponds 12 months ago but today Metgasco are building an open wastewater pond on the edge of the Casino floodplain," Lock the Gate Alliance Northern Rivers spokeswoman Boudicca Cerese said.
"This action today exposes the promises by the NSW Government as a sham.
"It seems Metgasco has been allowed to build these ponds because they have called them 'temporary holding ponds' rather than 'evaporation ponds'."
The pond, which is licensed to operate for five years, effectively functions the same as an evaporation pond and has the same risks, Ms Cerese said.
But State Resources Minister Chris Hartcher described the pond as a "dam", and said Metgasco's activities "remain within the law".
"Comments from certain sections of the community refer to a pond which was recently approved by Richmond Valley Council," Mr Hartcher said in a statement.
"Council is entitled to approve the construction of dams.
"The Division of Resources and Energy has advised Metgasco that should it wish to use the dam for coal seam gas activities it will need further approval from the Division."
Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said the ponds "support the exploration phase activities that are under way" and were approved.
Mr Ramsay was charged with trespass and for refusing to comply with a police direction to leave the site.
He was bailed to appear in Casino Local Court on July 18.