Anti CSG protesters at the Bentley blockade last year.
Anti CSG protesters at the Bentley blockade last year. Mireille Merlet

Lismore Mayor: Metgasco's seismic testing not wanted here

PLANS by Metgasco to carry out seismic testing in Rock Valley as early as November have been described by Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell as an "insult to the community".

The company announced yesterday it was planning a return to field operations for the first time in 18 months.

Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson said the company had arranged a contractor to carry out a four-day seismic survey in November along 16km of Rock Valley Rd and Bungabee Rd, Bentley.

In a statement, the company said "the purpose of the seismic program is to provide more definition of the northern extent of the Greater Mackellar conventional / tight gas exploration prospect.

Should Metgasco be allowed to conduct seismic testing at Rock Valley?

This poll ended on 07 October 2015.

Current Results

Yes

9%

No

90%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

"The additional seismic (testing) is expected to provide increased confidence of the structure's closure before testing the prospect with the planned Rosella well."

The company is also in final negotiations with a contractor to drill the Rosella well at Bentley.

While Lismore City Council in 2011 resolved that it would not allow any seismic testing on its roads or road reserves, Mr Henderson yesterday scoffed at the suggestion councils could overrule State Government-endorsed mining licences.

"It would be absurd if local councils could override State Government approvals; it would introduce a level of sovereign risk which would be very damaging to the whole industry," he said.

He said gas companies had been "encouraged" over 10-15 years by the government to "come in to NSW and spend their resource dollars".

"The Petroleum (Onshore) Act makes it quite clear that we have the right to do so," he said.

"If the State Government takes that (supportive) approach, we need to make it clear that people who come in and don't agree with it can't just come along and stop it."

Would you take part in any protest action against seismic testing at Rock Valley

This poll ended on 07 October 2015.

Current Results

Yes, definitely

56%

Yes, if I can

22%

I'd like to but probably won't be able to

8%

No way

11%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

But Cr Dowell said the issue wasn't just about Metgasco's legal right to operate.

"Whatever side you sit on this, the expenditure that would be required for police and other services is unjustified when it's clear that our community does not want Metgasco here," she said.

She vowed to join any protest on Lismore council land against the move.

Cr Dowell said there had been speculation Metgasco was moving ahead with plans to play brinksmanship with the NSW Government to boost its compensation offer. But Mr Henderson denied this.

"Our job is to explore for gas and to develop it, that's what our shareholders have paid us to do," he said.

"We have a lawful right to do our work and we believe the government's responsibility is to allow us to proceed with our programs without unlawful disruption."

Gasfield opposition groups have confirmed there will be disruption of some kind.

Ross Joseph from the Bentley Gatekeepers said Metgasco's move had been met with "renewed determination and commitment" to raise the blockades again.

"Why is this company continually ignoring the fact that they are not welcome here?" Mr Joseph said.

"The government made them an offer to withdraw from the Northern Rivers.

"Metgasco should take the money and run."



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