Metgasco drilling approval suspended due to “mislabelling”, not protests
Metgasco’s approval to drill at Bentley in the Northern Rivers of NSW has been suspended, with the company being referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption by NSW Energy and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts.
According to The Guardian, the Minister suspended the license because Metgasco had not had a “genuine and effective consultation” with the local community.
A statement released by peak industry body the APEAA said the decision, “sets a damaging precedent for resource development in that state.”
“Investors should be concerned about what constitutes “genuine and effective consultation” in NSW. The industry is concerned that the presence of protestors at an operational site should not mean that genuine consultation with the community has been ineffective,” the statement said.
“Protest action at this site is part of a well-organised and well-resourced strategy to stop energy development across Australia and it has included both illegal and threatening behaviour, including the placement of booby traps.”
However the Minister told the Northern Star that recent protests had nothing to do with the decision, but rather it was the company’s mislabelling of the Rosella tight sands well as “conventional”, that led to the suspension.
“Pressure from any group, be it industry or protesters, is not a factor,” a spokesman for the minister said.
The Mayor of Richmond Valley, Ernie Bennett, told the Northern Star that Metgasco and the government had “ignored the council’s calls for better community consultation, including its recommendation they set up a shopfront in Casino.”
The Mayor also said the government had ignored Council’s repeated calls for funding to conduct test on local waterways.
“From the industry’s point of view, if you want to operate and be welcomed, then you need to be proactive,” Bennett said.