NARRABRI Shire Council's decision to officially support the Santos coal seam gas project has turned in to a "dung fight", after councillors were "blindsided" at a council meeting.
On Tuesday, councillors were prepared to pass a report providing an update on the status of the Narrabri Gas Project, however an amendment was added to the motion by deputy mayor Cameron Staines that council officially endorse the project.
Three councillors raised concerns and voted against the motion, however it was passed by five votes.
The Leader understands a rescission motion to contest the decision is in the works. Narrabri mayor Cathy Redding did not respond to the Leader's request for an interview.
Cr Robert Kneale voted against the amendment, but made it clear he was objecting to process and not making a judgement on the gas project.
"As far as I'm concerned, the way council has dealt with this since late 2017 has been very professional, transparent and neutral," Cr Kneale said.
"This strays away from that. In my mind, it was sprung on councillors, that wasn't the subject of the report. The amendment meant that all of a sudden, we were now dealing with council as a whole supporting the project.
"This is quite a significant commitment of council, without prior knowledge or community discussion.
"There is still a long way to go in this project. Until we are closer, why enter in to a debate about if council should commit itself one way or another?"
Cr Ron Campey said the situation had descended in to "a dung fight".
"More than anything, there is a big debate around due process and in this instance, it wasn't followed," Cr Campey said.
"This was sprung on us and we were blindsided. This was a new notice of motion brought from the floor, which is illegal at Narrabri Shire Council, not an amendment."
"It was piggybacked in on something else."
Cr Campey said the decision to support the gas project wasn't workshopped with councillors and the community wasn't given the opportunity to comment.
"If this isn't tidied up pretty quickly, I don't know where it will end," he said.
"My thoughts are we shouldn't rush in to this. Give it another 12 months to play out a little bit, and then have another look at it."
Cr Maxine Booby had no issue with the process and hoped the state government would take note of council's endorsement and speed up its assessment of the project.
"The way it went through was acceptable, and obviously the councillors thoughts so too because it was voted through," she said.
When asked if the decision reflected the community sentiment, Cr Booby said "you'll never satisfy the whole community".
"If you ask 100 people, you'll have some for it, some against it and some in the middle, that's just standard," she said.
Cr Ron Campbell left the room for the debate, due to a conflict of interest, as he owns Namoi Waste, who does contract work with Santos. There is also concern Cr Staines has a conflict of interest, as he is employed by Namoi Waste.