The Richmond Valley Council has asked a large protest camp in Bentley, near Lismore in NSW, to dismantle. The camp was set up to protect the local area from gas drilling by Metgasco. Several hundred people in the camp have maintained an ongoing blockade to prevent access to the site where test drilling is due to begin.
Organisers of the camp, which is set up on private land, have refused the request.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers representative Ian Gaillard said: “We will continue with our efforts to pursue an ongoing permit for the camp and have submitted notification to Richmond Valley Council that we will be lodging an application for redetermination of our development application.
“We will be pursuing all available legal avenues to maintain the existing camp so we can support people’s right to peacefully protest Metgasco’s invasive gas mining.
“The irony of the whole situation is that, as [the council] well knows, maintaining the Bungabee Road camp is the best way of ensuring public safety and an orderly and organised camp.”
The blockade consists of a main camp and three separate camps on the same road, which are blocking the gates to the farms where the proposed mining is set to begin.
Protesters expect police to be bussed in from other parts of the state to quell the resistance and allow drilling to begin.
Over Easter, numbers swelled as visitors stopped by from all over the country. Musician John Butler and his bandmates performed a surprise show for the crowd on April 20. “I’ve been coming to frontline blockades for 20 years,” he said. “I think it’s awesome.
“This is the same thing we did in the Kimberley and we stopped the world’s largest gas pipe from getting built and that was just a few months ago.
“We stopped the South Coast forest from being logged 20 years ago and this is how you do it. As long as this community’s strong and has its roots firmly in the ground, they can’t stop us.”