The NSW Government is taking the Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group to court in an attempt to force the local residents' group to pay the Government's legal bill.
FCRAG launched proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court last year, challenging the approval by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment of Dart Energy's proposed pilot coal seam gas (CSG) project at Fullerton Cove, near Newcastle. While the court challenge was unsuccessful, Dart Energy have since withdrawn from the project indefinitely, due in part to the sustained opposition of the Fullerton Cove community.
The national Lock The Gate Alliance has slammed the move by the government. “The O'Farrell Government is using the courts to bully local residents on behalf of the CSG industry,” said Lock The Gate's regional coordinator for the Hunter, Steve Phillips.
“The residents of Fullerton Cove do not want their rural community transformed into an industrial gasfield”, he said. “They have tried everything to save their community from CSG. They have lobbied local members and Ministers, they have made written submissions, they have tried legal action, and they have staged an inspiring community blockade to keep Dart Energy's drilling rigs out of Fullerton Cove.”
“The NSW Government should be supporting Fullerton Cove residents' attempts to protect their community. Instead they are taking them to court, and attempting to bankrupt the local residents' group on behalf of the gas company. This is shameful, bullying behaviour from the NSW Government.”
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. The NSW Government are also taking the local residents' group of Bulga, in the Hunter Valley, to the Supreme Court, siding with global mining giant Rio Tinto in an attempt to side-step the wishes of the community and put a massive open cut coal mine on the edge of the village.”
“Local residents' groups are used to being bullied around by mining companies, but they should not have to put up with the same tactics by the Government that is supposed to protect them”, said Phillips. “We call on the NSW Government to quit acting like hired goons for the mining industry, and join the communities of NSW in their fight to protect land, water, and public health from the resources boom.”
The case brought by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment against Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group will be heard in the NSW Land and Environment Court on 10th September.