Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Concerned residents - not anti-CSG activists

Claims made by Richard Shields from Metgasco on ABC Radio (Country Hour) today have been rejected by CSG Free Northern Rivers. Mr Shields claimed that CSG is safe and that Metgasco wanted to speak with local communities but were prevented from doing so because meetings were “hijacked by anti-CSG activists”.
“Metgasco has a very poor history of communicating with local communities and Glenugie is a case in point,” said CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesperson, Boudicca Cerese.
“Close neighbours to the Glenugie site have personally informed me that they have never been advised by the company of their drilling plans and there has been no attempt by Metgasco to provide any public information sessions to residents in the general Glenugie area.”
“The fact that Metgasco has found time to meet with the Grafton Chamber of Commerce yet has failed to inform local residents clearly shows where their priorities are.”
“I have visited the locals who are blockading at Glenugie and have listened to their concerns. These are genuine people whose views are being systematically ignored and trivialized by the state government and Metgasco,” said Ms. Cerese.
“It is local community members, not some anonymous and nebulous ‘activists’ who are at the centre of the blockade against Metgasco at Glenugie.”
“If Mr Shields does not understand this simple fact – that it is local communities who are standing up against their plans to turn the area into a gasfield – then it is he who is ‘not prepared to listen’.”
“This is also the case at Doubtful Creek, between Casino and Kyogle, where Metgasco plan to drill another core hole in the near future,” MS Cerese said.
“Locals at Kyogle tried for more than a year without any success to get Metgasco to hold a public meeting to address community concerns about coal seam gas- they even offered to book a venue for the company.”
“Small private meetings between Metgasco and a few invited guests chosen by the company certainly does not constitute community consultation.”
“Until the CSG companies and the state government genuinely start listening to community views and concerns about CSG then the blockades and other actions are likely to continue as each community takes a stand to defend local community, environmental and social values.”
“As for Mr Shields’ claims that the work Metgasco are doing at Glenugie is safe, this ignores the fact that these drilling activities are part of a cycle of work focused directly on producing CSG for market which will involve hundreds if not thousands of wells.”
“You can’t say that just because one step in the process is less dangerous or risky than the entire process, that the overall coal seam gas operations are therefore ‘safe’.”
“The community is not stupid and are not deceived by Metgasco’s repetitive cycle of spin and misinformation,” she said.

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