WITH thousands expected to turn out at several rallies across the Northern Rivers against the coal seam gas industry over the weekend the groundswell of opposition to the burgeoning industry is growing.
This week the NSW Farmers Association threatened to walk away from the O'Farrell government's coal seam gas stakeholder advisory committee.
The president of the NSW Farmers Association Fiona Simson said draft documents proposed the loss of agricultural activity would need to be taken into account only when considering mining projects of "state significance"
The NSW Farmers Association has said it was unhappy with key aspects of the government's policy development process and that current draft plans did not meet election promises.
The coals seam gas controversy has even embroiled the North Coast National Show after it signed a sponsorship deal with Metgasco.
Show president John Gibson confirmed Metgasco would be a major sponsor at this year's show, but refused to say how much the deal was worth.
In defending the decision to include Metgasco alongside other major sponsors - such as Norco, whose chief executive has spoken out against the industry - Mr Gibson said the show had a responsibility to treat the company in the same way it would treat any other businesses in the region.
Mr Gibson said he was aware of the controversy surrounding the burgeoning coal seam gas industry, but the show did not get involved in political matters.
"(And) it does not say we agree with what it (Metgasco) does," Mr Gibson said.
Metgasco would be erecting a marque in a prominent position during the show and it would be an opportunity for people to talk about their concerns with the company, Mr Gibson said.
Ian Gaillard from the Keerrong Gas Squad - a group opposed to the coal seam gas industry - agreed Metgasco's presence was an opportunity for people to talk to the company.
"We certainly don't want people to boycott the show, we want them to go and get in the tent with Metgasco," he said.
A rally against the coal seam gas industry will be held in Lismore today.
It begins at 10am in Spinks Park from where a march through the streets of Lismore and back to the park will take place, after which speakers, including Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and Chinchilla farmer Brian Monk, will address those in attendance.
On Sunday, as part of a national day of action there will be rallies in Byron Bay, Kyogle, Iluka and Nimbin.
The Kyogle rally will begin with a march through the town at 11.20am to the amphitheatre where there will be speakers, music, food stalls and information booths.
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