CSG protestors step up to their moment in history

FOLK SINGERS: Davey Bob Ramsey and Kim McLean lead the crowd in protest songs at the anti-CSG rally on Wednesday.
FOLK SINGERS: Davey Bob Ramsey and Kim McLean lead the crowd in protest songs at the anti-CSG rally on Wednesday.

AROUND 300 people stood under the blazing sun on Wednesday rallying against coal seam gas mining in the Northern Rivers.

A spokesman for Metgasco told The Echo that "despite the antics of a very small group of protestors, the seismic program has proceeded and will be completed successfully".

SCU lecturer, author and activist Aidan Ricketts told the protestors, Australia was facing the greatest threat since World War II.

"Persistent social movements win," he told the crowd.

The latest actions against CSG mining on the North Coast began last weekend when an estimated 100 people attended peaceful protests against seismic testing being conducted by Metgasco on Ellangowan Rd, near Casino Airport.

Over the weekend they maintained a presence and further protests occurred outside a hotel in Lismore where Metgasco-contracted workers were staying.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson accused protestors of theft and the physical intimidation of employees. He said activists had stolen 11 lengths of geo-testing cable worth about $5500 and that images of the theft had been handed to police.

However, no charges have been laid and a caller to ABC North Coast Radio said she and others had handled the equipment thinking it was detritus - "because it literally looked like a handbag made out of recycled gear," she said.

Spokeswoman for the CSG-Free Community Strategy, Annie Kia, compared the protests to the Civil Rights movement of America.

"There is no social license for this industry," she maintained. "We should step up to this moment in history."

Adam Guise, of CSG-Free Northern Rivers, emphasised that anti-CSG protestors were part of a broad-based social movement. "We're all in this together. Air and water are the most precious things we have. We must grow this social movement and keep it non-violent, stay united on this single issue."

The speeches were followed by an old-fashioned folk revival, with Luke Vasella, Davey Bob Ramsey and Kim McLean belting out protest anthems.

The protestors then formed a convoy and drove out to Naughtons Gap, the juncture of the Kyogle, Lismore and Casino local government areas and the site of current seismic testing.

There, Lock the Gate co-ordinator Boudicca Cerise warned that although Metgasco claims its plans are for conventional gas mining, the geological reality belies that.

"Gas reserves here are held in impermeable sandstone reservoirs and require intensive large-scale multiple fracking to get at them," she said.

She said that the seismic testing Metgasco was undertaking extended south from Casino and right out to Naughtons Gap where it intersects the Lismore-

Kyogle Road.

"This is not just about the Richmond Valley. Naughtons Gap is the confluence of three shires. If Metgasco's first exploration well has the results they're after they will expand rapidly from there."

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