Tuesday, 29 April 2014

April 2014: The Battle For Bentley Continues

The Sydney Morning Herald 23 April 2014: Bentley protest camp

Richmond Valley Council media release, 23 April 2014:
Council Refuses Application for Continuation of Bentley Protest Camp
Richmond Valley Council General Manager John Walker has announced that the primitive camping site previously approved for up to 200 campers at Bentley, which is currently home to a large number of anti-gas protesters, will no longer have an approval to continue beyond Friday 25 April 2014 after the expiry of its original 2 month approval.

“The site’s subsequent growth since the approval was originally granted, the length of time that the camp has been operating, the ongoing breach of many of the approval conditions and the inability of the consent holder to control the activities of many of the campers and visitors to the site makes the use of a Section 68 approval under which it has operated as a primitive camping site inappropriate.” Mr Walker said.

In a further statement Mr Walker announced that the Development Application seeking planning approval to continue to use the site as a temporary primitive campsite for up to 600 campers lodged by the landowner, Green Mountain Group on 14 April has been refused due to its lack of essential detail, objections by Police and Roads and Maritime Services and the proposed inappropriate land use itself.

Accordingly the occupation and use of the land as a primitive campsite beyond 25 April will not be lawful.

Formal notices advising these decisions have today been issued to the owner of the land, the applicant and its representatives.

The Council is reviewing its options regarding closing the campsite and removing its occupants.

Metgasco Limited has probably been waiting for this protest camp expiry date and, for police to start moving people away, before it enters onto the tight gas drilling site known as Rosella E01.

Meanwhile, it appears to have confirmed to the media but not informed the stock exchange of yet another excuse for why it is keeping away. This time the drilling rig is not held up by rain in Queensland - it may possibly be contaminated by asbestos.

Protesters have been at the gates of Metgasco's drilling site for around three months to date, however the protest camp on an adjoining property has only been in existence for about two months.

Metgasco had originally told the Australian Stock Exchange that it expected to commence drilling in mid-April subject to the drilling rig being available.

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