Fullerton Cove vs Dart Energy: historic legal decision on CSG
Dart Energy will not be allowed to drill for coal seam gas at Fullerton Cove until the legal case against the approval of their pilot wells is heard, the Land and Environment court ruled today.
Residents of Fullerton Cove are challenging the legality of Dart Energy’s planned coal seam gas project and have called the injunction success “a historic decision”. The case brought by Fullerton Cove residents against Dart Energy will be heard sometime after 28 September, according to Lock the Gate.
These legal proceedings come after a 9-day blockade of the proposed drilling site on Fullerton Cove Road, north of Newcastle.
Here is the release from the local residents action group:
Media Release September 5th 2012
COURT CALLS A HALT TO DART ENERGY GAS DRILLING AT
In a historic decision, the Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group today won an injunction to prevent Dart Energy from drilling for coal seam gas at Fullerton Cove, near Newcastle, until a full legal challenge has been heard.
The legal action followed a nine day blockade of the Dart Energy drilling by local residents, which was eventually broken up by the riot squad and then re-established by the community across the road from the site.
The injunction allows Dart Energy to complete road works and the development of a well pad but prevents any drilling at the site.
“We are incredibly happy with the decision by the Land and Environment Court today to call a halt to coal seam gas drilling by Dart Energy at Fullerton Cove” said Justin Hamilton, spokesperson for the Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group.
“This injunction is a victory not just for the Fullerton Cove community but for communities throughout NSW who are having coal seam gas drill rigs forced onto their land.
“It sends a strong message to coal seam gas companies that communities are prepared to stand up for their land and water and expose planning loopholes which favour mining over people and environment.
“There will be no drilling allowed at Fullerton Cove until the full court case has been heard and a judgement handed down which means that our drinking water and wetlands are safe for now.
“We hope that Dart Energy will now reassess their plans for our area and voluntarily withdraw from the exploration licence entirely.
“Failing that, we believe the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, should intervene and cancel the exploration licence on the grounds of the significant non-compliances that have occurred previously.
“Special thanks are due to our legal representatives – solicitors at the Environmental Defenders Office and Barrister, Verity McWilliam” he said.
And here is the statement from Lock the Gate:
Dart should cut its losses and leave Fullerton Cove
The Lock the Gate Alliance has called on Dart Energy to cut its losses and get out of Fullerton Cove after its disastrous loss in court today.
The Land and Environment Court has granted an injunction sought by the Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group to halt Dart Energy’s coal seam gas project.
This means that Dart cannot proceed with work on its exploration licence until after after the residents’ case against the NSW State Government’s approval of the project is heard in the Land and Environment Court.
This case will be heard some time after 28 September.
The local group blockaded the company’s attempts to bring a drill rig into the community all last week.
Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, said the company is on a ‘hiding to nothing’ by attempting to continue work at the Fullerton Cove site.
“The Court is not likely to give a judgment on this case for several months and, during that time, Dart will be able to do no more than build a road into the property and a drill pad,” Mr Hutton said.
“They will certainly not be able to bring drill rigs into the property and anyway, we are confident the residents action group will win their court action to require a tougher environmental assessment of the project.
“The opposition at Fullerton Cove is the front line of the battle by residents groups all over New South Wales to protect their communities against irresponsible resource extraction.”
Dart are yet to release a statement.