Gasfield Free Northern Rivers supporters in last month's meeting at Bentley Hall.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers supporters in last month's meeting at Bentley Hall. Ross Kendall

This isn't a CSG protest, it's a 'celebratory countdown'

GASFIELDS Free has launched a "celebratory countdown" to the June 30 buyback deadline set by the State Government to take control of the massive exploration licence PEL 445.

Just before the March state election, Nationals leader Troy Grant pledged the government would negotiate to buy the licence and make it off limits to the CSG industry.

Now the local group wants to ensure the government follows through, and are framing it as a celebration rather than a protest.

The launch event was held yesterday in conjunction with the Knitting Nannas' regular Thursday knit-in outside Lismore MP Thomas George's office, and featured a "countdown clock" to be publicly displayed in the Lismore CBD during June.

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Gasfields Free spokesman Dean Draper said the PEL 445 buy back would represent a big step towards a CSG free region, particularly when National Party MP Chris Gulaptis and Upper House MLC Ben Franklin were pushing for a buy out of the Metgasco licenses.

"It's no longer a protest but a countdown to a unifying event for the region," he said.

"We take our local candidates at their word and the whole community is now counting on Thomas George and Troy Grant to see this election promise fulfilled.

"We (also) hope Chris Gulaptis will also encourage the State Government to investigate buying back the Metgasco gas licenses that cover most of his electorate of the Clarence before the deadline on June 30."

NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Troy Grant said negotiations with the holder of PEL 445 were ongoing and the transfer of ownership of the title to AJ Lucas had been suspended.

"Efforts to buy back the licence are well under way," he said. "Given the importance of this issue to the community, the NSW Liberals and Nationals government wants to get this right."