The crowd gathers (again) at Bentley.
The crowd gathers (again) at Bentley. Andy Parks

Government to announce decision on Metgasco suspension

THE State Government is expected to announce tomorrow whether it will uphold or reverse the suspension of Metgasco's licence to drill at Bentley.

The eve of the announcement comes as Metgasco prepares for its day in court on Friday and as anti-gas protesters call on the Government to raise the stakes and cancel the company's licence altogether.

Metgasco will argue in the Supreme Court on Friday that the suspension of the company's exploration licence was "unlawful" because it was not authorised by legislation and was made "without according Metgasco procedural fairness".

It will also argue that because it met its community consultation obligations, Resources Minister Anthony Roberts had no power to suspend PEL16.

Yesterday, a large group gathered at the Bentley site calling for Metgasco's PEL16 licence to be permanently cancelled.

We're not going away until the licence is cancelled and the region is declared gasfield free

- Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokeswoman Boudicca Cerese

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers organised a Breakfast at Bentley for 7am Monday morning and about 250 answered the call. The message to the State Government was clear - the community would respond with direct action if the licence is renewed.

Boudicca Ceres addresses the crowd at the Bentley breakfast.
Boudicca Ceres addresses the crowd at the Bentley breakfast. Andy Parks

"We're not going away until the licence is cancelled and the region is declared gasfield free," said spokesperson Boudicca Cerese.

Metgasco has adjourned its legal action against the government until Friday. If the action goes ahead they will claim the suspension was unlawful because it was not authorised by legislation and the company was not offered procedural fairness to respond.

But Ms Cerese said while Metgasco may argue about the way the suspension was implemented, she believes the grounds for suspension were justified.

"Metgasco have repeatedly failed to genuinely and effectively consult and engage with the community, both at Bentley and at other drill sites across the region."

She said basic notification and consultation with local landholders had not taken place and the company had refused to acknowledge any negative impacts from unconventional drilling or the huge community opposition to the industry in the region.

A delegation of Bentley landowners will again head to Sydney where they plan to meet with Resources Minister Anthony Roberts.

Actions outside Thomas George's and Don Page's offices will also take place on today at noon.



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