Gas company Metgasco says it’s shocked and disappointed by a north coast council move against the gas industry.
At last night’s council meeting the Richmond Valley Council made clear its view on unconventional gas mining.
The motion was as follows -
“That the Richmond Valley Council believes that given its current understandings and existing knowledge base around the unconventional gas industry, the potential effects on the environment, the uncertainty surrounding fracking and the strongly expressed community views against the unconventional gas industry that it cannot support the development of the unconventional gas industry in this local government area at this time. Further to this, that Council affirms its strong opposition to fracking in any form.”
The motion passed, five votes to two with the Mayor Ernie Bennett and Councillor Sullivan voting against it.
The man behind the motion, Councillor Daniel Simpson says it’s a controversial issue.
“Obviously that’s something that has been a contentious issue in our local government area for some time.”
“The council had previously taken a position of neutrality on the issue (but) last night I put forward a motion that basically says that we couldn’t support the unconventional industry at this time and that we reaffirmed our position that we were strongly against fracking in any form,” Cr. Simpson said.
The move is seen by anti-gas activists as a turn-around in the council’s position on the gas industry.
“There have been sections of the community that have been highly critical of us, but for me the issue was never black and white. Unfortunately we were put in a position where the council is not the control authority for this industry and what was happening was the state government was indicating to us that regardless of what we thought, they were pressing ahead for this industry,” he said.
“So we were left in a situation where we could either oppose the industry and what I felt would happen would risk shutting down lines of communication with both the state government and the industry, or we could do what we had previously done which was walk this neutral line and get the best result we could for our community out of a bad situation.”
But Councillor Simpson believes the tide of support for the gas industry had now turned.
“The ball park has changed somewhat since all of that has happened and I felt that it was now time that we came out and actually said no, enough is enough, we’ve seen what can happen here and the situation in Bentley where 800 police could have turned up and we could have had a really bad situation for our community,” Cr. Simpson said.
“I think that’s swayed some of the views of councillors to say we don’t want this in our area, our local community has spoken loud and clear and said they don’t want this in our area and that’s shown through in the vote (of the Richmond Valley Council),” Cr. Simpson said.
That decision has come as a shock to the company with the largest gas interest in the Clarence Morton basin.
Metgasco’s Managing Director, Peter Henderson said he was disappointed by the council’s position and the resolution has come as a surprise.
“We hadn’t expected this,” he said.
He said the council’s resolution was not representative of all parts of the community.
“We do have (industry) support and it depends on what community you are talking about,” Mr Henderson said.
Source: ABC News