Last week the Grafton loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas called on Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and the Office of Coal Seam Gas to take action and cancel PEL 426 (petroleum exploration licence) and, this week, representatives from Gasfield Free Northern Rivers are meeting with NSW parliamentarians.
Metgasco’s PEL 426 expired in February 2014 and covers 285,405 hectares.
Knitting Nannas spokesperson Lynette Eggins said in a press release that “the NSW government has said that if companies want to keep their licences they need to ‘use it or lose it’”.
“Metgasco would have just submitted their updated renewal application in July, we’re calling on the office of Coal Seam Gas to cancel PEL 426 instead of just renewing it, and we’re calling on Chris Gulaptis to make sure they know how we feel,” she said.
“Our government has gone quiet – so we’re making sure they know that instead of stitching up deals behind closed doors, we want this licence, along with the rest of the licences in the Northern Rivers, cast off.
“Cancelling this licence would get us half way there, and while they’re at it they should buy back Clarence Moreton Resources PEL 457, which covers the area around Maclean and Ashby.
“The communities of the Clarence deserve protection; it’s time for the government to take action and start cancelling licences.”
Mr Gulaptis told the Independent that he believes “we can continue to use the NSW Gas Plan to achieve exactly what the Nannas want”.
Meanwhile, a group of Northern Rivers citizens, led by Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, is in Sydney lobbying politicians to “support the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Prohibit Coal Seam Gas) Bill being debated in the Upper House, and urging the NSW Government to ‘finish the job’ and buy-out all remaining gas licences in the region”.
The Greens’ Legislative Council member, Jeremy Buckingham, tabled the bill, which had its second reading on May 28.
This week the Upper House votes on the Bill, which Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Dean Draper says, if supported, “would create a moratorium on unconventional gas right across New South Wales and ban gas mining in all seven LGAs of the Northern Rivers, from the Tweed to the Clarence”.
“Our delegation … will meet with representatives from the Nationals, the Greens, the Christian Democrat Party and the Shooters and Fishers, who could all play a role in the passing of the CSG moratorium bill, which would then go to the Lower House for a vote,” Mr Draper said in a press release.
“With the drilling suspension lifted on Metgasco earlier this year, there’s effectively nothing to stop them from continuing their work on gas fields in our region right now.”
Mr Draper told the Independent last week that Chris Gulaptis, Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Ballina-based MLC Ben Franklin were among the Nationals’ members with whom his delegation will meet.
“The end of September buyback deadline on gas licences looms, but our community has still not seen the action we need from the NSW Government,” he said.
“We’ve booked one of the rooms in Parliament House and we will be setting up a display there to showcase the magnificent Northern Rivers and all it has to offer.
“We’ll provide samples of local produce and have several landholders on hand to talk to parliamentarians about our special region and why it should be protected from invasive unconventional gas mining.
“Our community deserves protection and have been loud and clear with their demands. Now is the time for the government step up and deliver those promises made before the election by local MPs and the Deputy Premier, Troy Grant.
“We want them to cancel PEL 426, buyback all other licences in our region, and vote for the moratorium Bill in Parliament to permanently protect our region.”