Moods were high at the Bentley Protest Camp after the government suspended Metgasco’s exploration licence.
Moods were high at the Bentley Protest Camp after the government suspended Metgasco’s exploration licence.

Nationals MP wants Metgasco's licence cancelled altogether

CLARENCE MP Chris Gulaptis hopes his senior NSW Government colleagues will go one step further and cancel Metgasco's PEL16 following yesterday's temporary suspension of the company's petroleum licence.

PEL16 covers the area north of Casino towards Kyogle and east towards Lismore, and is understood to be the most concentrated gas-rich tenement in the region.

But is also closest to the heartland of opposition towards unconventional gas - Lismore, which voted 87% against CSG, and the coast around Byron Shire, where community polls have indicated upwards of 90% opposition.

Mr Gulaptis's electorate would have covered much of PEL16 under proposed electoral boundary adjustments ahead of next year's state election, and he may have borne the brunt of community resentment over the gas issue in the polls.

He said the "ongoing angst" the company's plans had created in the community justified a permanent cancellation of its exploration licence.

"There was something fundamentally wrong with Metgasco's approach to their community consultation," he said.

Mr Gulaptis said he was relieved the suspension had avoided what was predicted to be one of the biggest police operations in NSW history, against the largely non-violent Bentley blockade.

Meanwhile, his Nationals colleague and neighbour, long-serving Lismore MP Thomas George, remained somewhat vague over the decision.

Asked whether Metgasco had failed to adequately consult with the community over the Rosella well, Mr George said he needed to understand the technical definition of community consultation.

"It's not spelled out in black and white," he said.

But he defended his record of representing the community's concerns over the gas issue, saying had raised the issue of consultation with Metgasco some months ago, after interviewing two constituents who complained they had not been consulted even though they lived within 10km of the planned Rosella well.

"I provided those details to Metgasco who said they had consulted with them, and those constituents criticized me for doing that."



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