Metgasco meets Norco

REPRESENTATIVES of dairy co-operative Norco have met with mining company Metgasco to voice their concerns over coal seam gas mining on the North Coast.

After speaking out against the industry in September, Norco chair Greg McNamara said Norco's position hadn't changed after meeting with Metgasco at Norco's Head Office in Lismore on Wednesday.

Metgasco has coal seam gas exploration licenses on the North Coast, including three in Casino.

"We had a good discussion with them and we are both more aware of each other's issues," Greg McNamara said.

"It's not an easy issue and it's dividing the community.

"(The meeting with Metgasco) hasn't changed our position on CSG, but all parties do need to come to some resolution in order to co-exist.

"The reality is Norco has several mining companies drilling for gas in our supply area. We're not trying to stop a business that is bringing money to our region, but we need it to be safe for farmers and not do damage to our local environment and the beauty of the region.

"It needs to be safe and we need to protect prime agricultural land for future use.

"Coal seam gas mining has 20 or 30 years in it, but agriculture will go well beyond that and we need to protect our clean, green environment.

"We have questions about the process, and what it means for farmers. At the end of 20 years and the gas is all gone, we want to know what's left of the environment afterwards.

"Metgasco believe they have good practices and they're not the ogre they have been made out to be."

Mr McNamara said he will report on the Metgasco meeting at Norco's board meeting next month and the board will formulate their final view to the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas Mining.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said the company had initiated the meeting after discovering Norco would oppose CSG mining at the inquiry.

"We didn't know a lot about Norco or have any reason to think Norco would put in a submission against us," Mr Henderson said

"The meeting was to start a dialogue. They may still decide not to support us and now we have to do the work to build their confidence," he said.

"We didn't expect them to come away from the meeting and withdraw their submission or buy shares in the company.

"But, it was a good chat and we were able to explain why we think we can co-exist with dairy farmers."

Mr Henderson said he appreciated the community had genuine concerns about the process of fracking (the process of releasing gas from a coal seam using water and chemicals), and Metgasco would have to do the work to demonstrate their environmental responsibilities.

"The stories people hear about the chemicals used in fracking are incorrect," he said.

"We're not a chemical-intensive industry.

"When we explore we are very sensitive to where we drill, where the access roads will go and we are talking about affecting as little as 1 or 2% of a property.

"If we do have to frack, it would be for one or two days out of 20 years of production.

"In 20 years time, when the gas is depleted, we have to properly rehabilitate the property and we bear the cost of that.

"No-one will even know we have even been there."

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