Metgasco’s Bentley drilling licence remains suspended

Metgasco’s gas drilling program near Lismore remains suspended as the Office of Coal seam gas continues to assess whether the company has complied with conditions to consult with the community.

NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts suspended Metgasco’s Rosella-E-01 exploration well last week and said the company would need to prove it has undertaken "genuine and effective consultation" with the community.

The decision came after almost three months of protests by locals who oppose the well exploration program.  

Metgasco said it provided a submission to the Office of Coal Seam Gas on Thursday demonstrating that it has “fully complied with licence conditions relating to community consultation”.

While a decision was expected on Monday, the office advised its evaluation is not yet complete, and was unable to confirm a date for its response.

With the suspension coming just days before the official start of the program was set to take place at a Bentley farm, Metgasco has previously said it would suffer substantial costs.

The company said it has engaged specialist legal services to provide advice in relation to the suspension.

A procession of politicians have visited the protest camp at Bentley since the suspension was handed down.

Shadow minister for the North Coast Walt Secord said the protestors forced the government to act, stating it was "their win and their spirit that forced the State Government to back down".

Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam also visited the site and called for the PEL16 licence to be extinguished.

Protestors are planning to dismantle the camp this week but said metgasco’s movements would be closely monitored.

Adam Guise, from Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, said some activists would move on to other areas of concern in the state, ABC reported.

"People recognise that Bentley is a flagship for success in the Northern Rivers and it is a beacon of light to other people fighting invasive coal and gas throughout New South Wales and if not Australia," Guise said.

"Many of these people will now be involved in other action at the Pilliga and Gloucester Valley," he said.


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