Monday, 19 December 2011

Lismore Council blocks CSG testing and calls on other north coast councils to do the same

Today's Northern Star reports:

Lismore City Council has received unprecedented community support for its popular, though legally uncertain, moratorium on coal-seam gas activities on all council-controlled land.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said she had been flooded with emails and phone calls from a wide range of community members who were "one-hundred per cent supportive" of the council's controversial decision.

At its final meeting for 2011 last week, the council rejected initial legal advice and voted six to five to reject a seismic testing application by Metgasco along up to 14 kilometres of council road reserves at Rock Valley, before imposing a full moratorium (nine to two) pending further legal, community and industry consultation.

"It is now up to Metgasco to decide if they want to override council's refusal of this application, and our decision to impose a moratorium on further applications," Cr Dowell said.

"If they choose to go to a higher authority, they do so in the knowledge that not only is council against their activities, but so is the community at large."

Metgasco chief Peter Henderson was fiercely critical of the council arguing it had no authority to block the company and the action threatened to deprive the Northern Rivers of "a significant and environmentally attractive source of gas (and) infrastructure needs".

"In opposing our activities and incurring additional legal costs in challenging its own staff's advice, Lismore Council might wish to question if it is spending rate-payers' money in a responsible manner," he said.

"We aim to be a long-term participant in the Northern Rivers region and would still prefer to have the support of council for our activities. As such, Metgasco is reviewing its position in regard to the proposed seismic activity in Lismore Council areas."

Lismore City Council's decision follows a similar moratorium at Moree Plains Shire Council and preceded another at Gloucester Shire Council last Thursday.
Cr Dowell said the pressure was now on other councils to act, particularly those on the Northern Rivers, in order to send a strong message to Macquarie Street.

Read the full report here.

Source: The Northern Star, 19/12/11

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