On 21 July, the NSW Government lodged its response to the amended summons (judicial review) lodged by Metgasco on 7 July.
Commenting on the NSW Government’s response, Metgasco Managing Director and CEO, Peter Henderson, said: “The NSW Government’s response includes no surprises or significantly new information. Metgasco will proceed to the next stage of the court process to seek a lifting of the Government’s suspension, with the company to present its evidence on 28 July.”
“One section of the NSW Government’s response says that Metgasco’s failure to comply with condition 8 of PEL 16 had become apparent by 14 May 2014. We will be intrigued to see what supporting evidence is provided to support this statement. Metgasco strongly believes that it has complied with the Government’s guideline on community consultation. The Company’s proposed consultation program was specified in its drilling REF (environmental) application lodged in March 2013 and approved by the Office of Coal Seam Gas (OCSG) in February 2014. The OCSG did not communicate any concerns about community consultation until a few days before the drilling rig was to be mobilised,” said Henderson.
He further adds that: “Metgasco believes that the OCSG is continually changing the rules and their interpretation, and that in justifying the suspension it incorrectly confuses and conflates ‘consultation’ with ‘persuasion’. Genuine and effective community consultation does not and cannot demand that everybody in the community agrees with the proposed activity, particularly if the community is taken to include people living in a very wide region and activist protesters, many of whom have travelled from other states. If this is a ‘new standard’ to be adopted, new mines, dams, motorways, railways and airports will struggle to be built in NSW.”
Henderson said Metgasco had invested approximately $120 million over the past 10 years exploring for natural gas in NSW and had identified the second largest gas resource in the State.