THE National Court has restrained the development forum for Kutubu PDL 2 until all outstanding landowner issues are sorted out through mediation.
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika handed down his decision yesterday morning restraining the forum until issues of social mapping, landowner identification and outstanding MOA and SSG funds are resolved by mediation through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.
Justice Salika said the ADR would try to resolve these issues between landowner groups and Department of Petroleum and Energy and to return to court on Oct 16.
“The issues appeared to have raise in OS 201/09 is no development forum until full scale landowner issues are attended to.
“These issues must be attended to that is vital for the gas project to go ahead.”
He said the plaintiff and defendant must resolve issues under ADR, or they would return to the court to determine whether full scale social mapping and landowner identification had been done.
“I will allow the matter to go to ADR to thrash out those issues.
“That process must be given the opportunity until Oct 15. If it is not resolved, then it will return to court on Oct 16 to be determined by this court.
“The issues of social mapping and landowner identification, I give the opportunity to be resolved by ADR,” he said.
“If no resolution is reached by Oct 15, you can come back the next day to court for it to hear full evidence for the court to determine whether Section 47, 48 and 49 have been complied with.”
“No development forum will take place until Oct 16,” Justice Salika said.
The judge made the decision after the lawyers for the plaintiff, Digimu Landowners Association, and the defendant, the Department of Petroleum and Energy, proposed before the court for the matter to go to mediation to thrash out the issues through ADR.
Digimu Landowners Association went to court seeking interim orders to block the licence-based development forum from going ahead when requirements of the Oil and Gas Act have not been met by the State.
The Waigani National Court room nine was filled to capacity as lawyers representing various landowner groups went in to join as parties to the matter before the court.
Lawyers including Mark Nasil for Digimu, Marley Nandi for Juha, Ignatius Mambei for Foe landowners, Alois Jerowai, lawyers for Esso Highlands and Greg Manda from Department of Petroleum and Energy were all in court.
Kutubu landowner leader Hami Yawari said outside the court that he wanted laws to be followed by the State when inviting developers into the country.