LISMORE City Council will tonight consider a motion asking the State Government to declare the entire local government area a "no-go zone" for all unconventional mining.
The motion has been put forward by Cr Simon Clough, who is also the chairman of the Lock the Gate Alliance, requesting the State Government withdraw all petroleum exploration licences because of an overwhelming lack of public support for the industry.
Cr Clough argues there are 124 self-declared Gasfield Free communities in the Northern Rivers and that 95.6% of the 27,776 people surveyed have answered "yes" to the question "Do you want your road and land Gasfield Free?".
Cr Clough said the main reasons for his motion were:
The majority of voters oppose this industry. It has no social licence.
Invasive industrial gas fields are incompatible with our existing and sustainable industries.
The precautionary principle suggests that we should err on the side of safety and not expose our land, water and air to possible contamination.
He goes on to list the economic value of tourism and agriculture to the region, which he said could be threatened by the gas industry.
"In 2009-10, agriculture, forestry and fishing contributed $362.2 million to the Northern Rivers economy."
The State's food bowl
According to figures collated by Northern Rivers Food, we produce:
- Almost 20% of Australia's soybeans
- 3% of Australian market poultry - eggs and meat
- 25% of NSW's production of milk
- 11.5% of NSW's beef
- 15% of meat from other livestock
- Nearly all of NSW's sweet potatoes, peas and ginger
- Significant amounts of beans, chillies, garlic and herbs
A MEDIA release from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association seems to contradict information supplied by Metgasco.
The media release titled "Queensland Powers Ahead" from August last year suggested NSW was lagging well behind the Queensland gas industry.
APPEA claims "almost 4000 land access agreements with Queensland-based natural gas companies (have been signed) since 2011", whereas in NSW "just four land access agreements were signed in NSW during the first quarter, bringing the total to 285".
But Metgasco has consistently claimed, including in statements to the Australian Stock Exchange, to have "more than 300 land access agreements, all voluntary".
When asked about the inconsistency between the claims, Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said: "We have approximately 50 land access agreements for wells, the remainder are associated with seismic programs."