DIFFICULT POLITICS: Steve Bolt, Lismore solicitor at the Bentley anniversary reunion at the weekend, outside the Bentley Hall.
DIFFICULT POLITICS: Steve Bolt, Lismore solicitor at the Bentley anniversary reunion at the weekend, outside the Bentley Hall. Mireille Merlet

Northern Rivers' CSG battle far from over: solicitor

A LISMORE solicitor says the battle to have the Northern Rivers declared CSG free may be a long, drawn-out one.

Steve Bolt said even if the Baird government bought back petroleum exploration licences on the Northern Rivers it wouldn't mean a permanent end to the industry.

"In terms of the discussions that are being had at the moment by government, if the licences were bought back by government that would put and end to the CSG industry in this area," Mr Bolt said. "If the government were to buy back the licences in the Northern Rivers area then there would be no CSG mining going ahead unless a future government issues new licences.

"So nothing is ever permanent, but it would mean an end of the community concern about the industry coming in."

Mr Bolt spoke out at the weekend's Bentley Blockade reunion rally.

"This is another gathering of the community to show our commitment and determination to leave the Northern Rivers gasfield free as it is now," he said.

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"It's a political issue right now, in terms of it's in the government's hands as to how they are going to deal with this problem.

"Clearly the community up here, in a very, very loud voice both at the election and other times, has said that they are not willing to contemplate a gasfield-strewn Northern Rivers, we like it how it is.

"It's difficult for the conservative party because they're tied in with the mining industry, so there is some real political tension.

"It's natural for people in the National party or the Liberal party to support their friends in the mining industry but the community is saying no, not here, we don't want CSG on the Northern Rivers.

"That's the problem for the government, being a conservative government, now they have to find a way forward and make a decision about whose side are they on."

Compensation should be paid to companies if petroleum exploration licences were cancelled, Mr Bolt said.

"That could be the political solution," Mr Bolt said.

"If the government has the strength of will to say we'll give you some compensation, but we're not going to pay you $120 million as Metgasco is rather laughably putting their hand out for.

"But certainly some compensation looks to be the political solution that's on the table."



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