Coal-seam gas protesters outside the meeting room at the Lismore Workers Club.
Coal-seam gas protesters outside the meeting room at the Lismore Workers Club. Lismore Nothern Star

So where's our meeting?

MORE than 80 protesters gate-crashed an invitation-only meeting about coal seam gas mining held in Lismore yesterday.

The meeting was called by Lismore MP Thomas George to bring stakeholders from across the region, including the gas-mining company Metgasco, together with NSW Trade and Investment executive director of minerals resources Brad Mullard to talk about concerns related to mining.

Among the 32 people who attended the meeting was Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell, Kyogle Mayor Ross Brown, Richmond Valley Mayor Col Sullivan, Norco chairman Greg McNamara and representatives from the NSW Farmers Association, Richmond Dairies, water user and dairy groups, various environmental and anti-gas mining groups and landholders.

Arrow Energy, which holds leases across the region, was invited to attend but did not.

Just before the meeting the protesters chanted "no coal seam gas" and "consult with us".

Kyogle Group Against Gas member Leah Hobbs said they were frustrated because they had been trying for months to get a meeting with Mr George, but he had not responded to their requests.

"We asked if we could just come in and listen to the meeting, but we were told 'no'," she said.

However Mr George said he put it to the meeting whether the protesters should be admitted, with all but one saying "no".

Mr George said he had been working behind closed doors to make representations on behalf of his constituents to Resources Minister Chris Hartcher.

He also said the Coalition had not issued a single licence for gas drilling or exploration since coming into government and it was working on new rigorous processes for future licences.

"Under the new application processes (still in draft form) anyone who wants a licence will have to do two years worth of work to get one," Mr George said.

Cr Dowell said nobody at the meeting spoke in favour of the coal-seam gas industry.

"The concerns were mostly about water," Cr Dowell said.

Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson said the meeting provided an opportunity to express views in a mature and respectful manner.

"Metgasco finds these types of forums very beneficial and will continue to participate in community meetings like this in the future," Mr Henderson said.

"We note that Mr Mullard indicated that his department was not aware of any Australian examples of water contamination due to CSG activities and that he encouraged people with specific examples to come forward."

Last week the NSW Government extended until April a moratorium on the controversial fracking process used in CSG mining.



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