Independent laboratory completes water-quality testing near gas well

Independent baseline testing at Metgasco’s Rosella-1 gas well has been completed. Richmond Valley Council initially championed the need for adequate baseline assessments of existing water levels and quality and air quality 16 months ago, however, the NSW Government failed to respond. Last year, Council called on Metgasco to agree to have independent baseline testing done at its Rosella-1 gas well prior to any drilling starting – over and above the testing and environmental commitments imposed upon the company through its licence and well approval conditions.

After agreement was reached, Council engaged Lismore-based Richmond Water Laboratories to carry out testing within a two-kilometre radius of the well prior to drilling. The information obtained from the baseline assessments will provide the Council, landholders and the general community with valuable information prior to any future gas production taking place. Further testing will be carried out three months after Metgasco ceases operations. All tests results can be found at http://www.richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/page/Planning__Development/Water_Sampling_-_Certificates_of_Analysis_Rosella_waters/

Media release: Wednesday 2 April 2014

 

Anzac Day Office Closures

Council wishes to advise the Casino and Evans Head offices will be closed on the public holiday Anzac Day Friday 25 April.

In case of emergencies, contact 6660 0300. Your call will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.

Media Release: Wednesday 23 April 2014

Heritage grants scheme now open to small and large projects

Every year Richmond Valley Council awards thousands of dollars in matched dollar-for-dollar grants to renovators keen to restore heritage items in the Richmond Valley area. As in past years, the scheme will continue to provide a funding pool totalling $14,000 for maximum dollar-for-dollar grants of $2000 for smaller projects. However, this year a second funding pool has been created with an allocation of $10,000 specifically to fund large projects on a dollar-for-two dollar basis.

Owners of items listed on Richmond Valley Council’s heritage register are encouraged to take up this valuable opportunity and to consider all manner of heritage improvements such as fences, verandahs, roof cladding and guttering, decorative materials, signage, drainage, repairs, weather proofing and structural work right through to final painting works under the scheme.

Applicants should access the scheme guidelines and eligibility criteria documents before completing the application form due before close of business Monday, 28 April 2014.

Information is available by visiting a Council office or the Heritage page.

Media Release: Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Protestors out of line calling for business boycott

Protesters campaigning against gas exploration and production have turned their attention to letter writing to attack Richmond Valley Council and local businesses. Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett said he was astonished to learn today a number of unsigned letters making incorrect claims against Council and even going as far as suggesting boycotts of local businesses were being distributed throughout the area.

Cr Bennett said this appeared to be an attempt by the more radical anti-gas protestors to coerce local residents and businesses into joining their protest for fear of retribution.

Cr Bennett said local government, in this case Richmond Valley Council, was not the consent authority for gas activity and was unable to approve or reject locations of wells.

He said it was important to note there was no requirement for Council to implement controls into any Development Control Plan regarding gas as this was regulated by higher order legislation.

“Approvals for gas wells are managed by the NSW Government, which is the consent authority not local government, Cr Bennett said.

“The location of gas wells is also guided by the NSW Government. Council does not control nor have a say in the location of gas wells.

Cr Bennett said it now seemed truth was becoming collateral damage in the debate.

He also said to be attacked and boycotted for no particular reason was unAustralian.

“Calling for a boycott of family-owned, local businesses which employ local people is outrageous, Cr Bennett said.

Cr Bennett said Council was neither for nor against gas activity, however, he said Council had always been a strong advocate for improvement in the consultation process between Council, NSW Government agencies and the gas industry.

He said he believed all parties in the debate needed to work together and learn to trust each other to achieve a balance of outcomes which were positive, based on fact and the best available science.

Media Release: Monday 24 March 2014

Volunteer at your local centres to make a difference

Richmond Valley Council is looking for community-minded people interested in making a difference to volunteer at the Casino Community and Cultural Centre or the Visitor Information Centre. Council’s General Manager John Walker said both centres played important roles in the community by providing a welcoming meeting place and a wealth of information.

Mr Walker said the call for volunteers followed an increase in demand for a range of services on offer at the Casino Community and Cultural Centre and a change to staffing arrangements at the Visitor Information Centre.

He said volunteers had the opportunity to learn valuable skills and meet new and interesting people.

“If volunteering interests you and you are a good conversationalist and would like to share your time, then we would love to hear from you, Mr Walker said.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Rebecca Ryan on 6662 3566 or email tourism@richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au.

Media release: 19 April 2013