Thousands of Upper Hunter residents are furious after a petition containing 11 000 signatures on coal seam gas exploration and extraction in the area failed to be lodged in Cabinet.

The signatures sat in the office of Upper Hunter MP George Souris for more than 10 months and as a result were not taken into account for the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy.

Graeme Gibson from the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance says all the time, effort and money spent on putting the petition together has now been wasted.

“Even if it was a mistake in the office of George Souris, it is an absolute disgrace…Those who signed the petition should be dismayed and disgusted that their representation sat on a desk in the Minister’s office for so long.”

The office of Mr Souris is blaming a communication error on the validity of the signatures as the reason the petition was not lodged with the Legislative Assembly until last Wednesday.