Three motions calling for a moratorium on new coal-seam gas drilling were unanimously embraced by Richmond Valley councillors on Tuesday.
Three motions calling for a moratorium on new coal-seam gas drilling were unanimously embraced by Richmond Valley councillors on Tuesday. Jacklyn Wagner

Councillors now back moratorium

RICHMOND Valley councillor Donella Kinnish is at a loss to explain why six months ago her fellow councillors voted down a motion calling for a moratorium on coal-seam gas but on Tuesday night unanimously embraced the ban.

In all, three motions - two from Cr Kinnish and one put by Cr Robert Mustow - calling for a moratorium on new drilling and more information about the safety of CSG drilling - sailed through the council without a skerrick of opposition.

"Six months ago I put up a similar motion but the vote was 6/2 against a moratorium," said Cr Kinnish who marched in the weekend's anti-CSG rally in Lismore. "I don't know why they changed their opinions."

The council approved the motion by Cr Mustow for moratorium on all new coal-seam gas projects on council-owned land until the State Government adopts its new strategic land use policy.

It will also write to the minister for planning "expressing a strong desire for the protection of prime agricultural land in the Northern Rivers from CSG activities".

Cr Mustow, who last December voted against a moratorium, yesterday said his motion on Tuesday night was motivated by Recommendation 35 of the State Government Standing Committee's recent report.

"If there are doubts at state (government) level, doubts in the community and doubts within other councils, I thought it was time (for a moratorium) until the State Government adopts guidelines," he said.

He said the sooner the government developed guidelines, the sooner those worries would be eased. "I think the councils would be happy and I think the industry itself and shareholders would be able to see a way forward."

Crs Stuart George and Charlie Cox did not participate in the vote after declaring conflicts of interest.

 

WHAT BENEFIT COMES FROM COUNCILS 'BANNING' COAL-SEAM GAS?