For the first time, coal and CSG have been significant issues in local Council elections across Victoria. Independent Neil Rankine, well known for his work on coal, was elected to Bass Coast, and most candidates supported local initiatives asking them to state their position on new fossil fuel developments. Kieran Kennedy, a strong anti-CSG campaigner, has been announced as the new Mayor for South Gippsland Council.
In another great development, the South Gippsland Landcare Network has become the first landcare co-ordinating network in Victoria to come out publically and oppose CSG....
The community campaign keeps building.
The state government announcement in August of a ban on the process of fracking until national guidelines on CSG are finalised took some of the heat out of the campaign in the short term, but has not relieved community concerns.
Local groups continue to organise and get active. Training has been going on to help communities declare themselves CSG and coal free.
There was a well attended public forum held in Poowong.
In Gippsland, Wellington Shire became the 7th Victorian council to respond to community concerns about new fossil fuel projects, agreeing in an 8 to 1 vote to write to the government to express its support for the ban on fracking.
Just over the border, Energetica Resources has told local campaigners that it will not proceed with its plan to look for CSG in the Corowa Shire.
Meanwhile the industry and Coalition MPs are clearly feeling the heat. The energy minister Michael O’Brien recently launched an attack on Friends of the Earth in parliament, using words like liars and extremist.
Federal Nationals MP Darren Chester also joined the debate, saying in parliament that the CSG debate had been 'hijacked by the extreme Green movement'.
Next, Exxon Australia President John Dashwood said the debate over CSG was too often dominated by ''uninformed novices''.
Then the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) chief operating officer for eastern region, Rick Wilkinson said the "the distribution of misinformation (about CSG) and myth by professional activists and career campaigners is creating a barrier to job creation and regional development".
We are moving into the stage in our campaign where we can expect a lot more push back from the government. And this is because the community is starting to win. If we weren’t impacting on their operations or if their other arguments had any traction in the community they wouldn’t need to stoop to these depths.
This is the best evidence yet about how deeply community opposition to new fossil fuels is impacting the industry and the state government.
Stay tuned for some new campaign initiatives which will be launched in November.
In a remarkable, but not entirely unexpected move, the government has finally responded to community concerns, and declared a moratorium on all new exploration licenses for coal seam gas, a ban on any approvals for Fracking, and a ban on the use of BTEX chemicals in mineral exploration activities.
Check here to see our response.
JUNE/ JULY - another huge effort by Gippsland communities:
- There was a large turn out at a forum in Tarwin Lower in South Gippsland, largely farmers.
- More than 160 people turned up to the briefing sessions on CSG being held by South Gippsland Council and 140 at the Council meeting where a motion calling for a moratorium was put forward. There was unanimous support for the motion, making South Gippsland the 5th Council to support the campaign.
- veteran campaigner Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate/ FoE Queensland spoke to a packed hall at Leongatha.
- Gippsland Lock the Gate was formed and launched. http://lockthegategippsland.com/
- Moreland Council became the 6th Victorian council to support the call for a moratorium on CSG.
- Community members in Sale organised a large forum to highlight concerns about proposals for Tight Gas and CSG in East Gippsland.
- And a rally has been called in Mirboo North to oppose a new application to look for coal over the Strezlecki Ranges.
- As the national politics reporter for the Weekly Times newspaper, Les White, recently noted:
‘The anti-CSG lobby groups are running a perfect grassroots campaign. It is seeping through communities through word of mouth'.
May 2012. We have had some great outcomes over the past month:
- the ALP has supported the call for a moratorium on CSG operations
- the Greens support the call for a moratorium on coal and gas
- we have more than 50 groups signed on to the moratorium
- more than 1,300 people have signed the petition
- a growing number of local Councils are joining the campaign, with Bass Coast and Colac Otway taking strong positions
- the state Member for Bass, Ken Smith, has supported a call for a ban on new coal and gas in his electorate
- the Victorian Farmers Federation has called for farmers to have a right of veto over CSG operations
- Port Phillip Council has become the first metropolitan Council to support the moratorium
- pressure keeps building on the state government to react to the growing community concerns.
And in late May the joint parliamentary committee report into ‘greenfields’ mineral developments was tabled.
While green groups have expressed disappointment that it has failed to deliver a moratorium on further exploration for coal and coal seam gas, there is a significant shift in the governments approach to CSG.
Three recommendations out of 25 contain some good news for rural people and environmentalists concerned about the spread of the fossil fuel industry:
- a proposed strategic land use policy framework to better manage the competing needs of agriculture and mining. This process has a lot of potential. However, for it to avoid the mistakes made in New South Wales, it must primarily provide protection for sensitive environmental and agricultural areas, not just mineral resources.”
- A proposal that the government create a process to ensure open consultation with communities regarding future coal seam gas exploration and development.
- And better notification requirements to inform land owners about intended exploration activity.
Our response is available here.
Scroll down to find some of the media coverage of the campaign.
ALL IN ALL, a great month!
Quit Coal is now also active on the CSG issue. Check here for details.
Please consider supporting our work with a donation. Please check here.
What's in this section.
Please scroll down to find the following:
- background on the issues
- our call for a moratorium on CSG and other unconventional gas operations
- press releases from our work
- media coverage of our work
- the campaign to oppose CSG and other new gas in Victoria (including details on current exploration licenses & action alerts)
- links to resources and further information
FoE is working to halt all new on-shore fossil fuel projects in the state - including new coal, CSG, Tight and Shale gas. In 2011, this campaign focussed on the Bacchus Marsh and Anglesea coal mines and exploration applications covering CSG in western Victoria.
In 2012 we have broadened our work to also have a strong focus on the development of Tight Gas and other un conventional gas resources. Check here for further info on Tight and other forms of 'unconventional' gas.
Check here for our leaflet 'experimental coal and unconventional gas in Victoria'.
FoE calls for Victorian government to ban coal seam gas mining
Please check here for our release on this.
You can sign our on-line petition here.
Rural and urban Alliance calls on State Government to ban new fossil fuel projects (April 2012).
- more than 50 groups have joined our call for a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects. http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=node/1124
Check here for CSG-related campaign events in Victoria.
We have a Facebook page (No CSG in Victoria), where people can share information about CSG investigations and actvity in their area.
[above: our CSG roadshow, western VIC, 2011]
Press releases from our CSG work
some media coverage of our work
Fracking moratorium announced. (Weekly Times, August 2012)
Our Gate is locked. (Gippsland Farmer, July 2012)
Coal seam gas drilling planned locally (Gippsland Times, June 2012)
Call for inquiry into coal seam mining (The Weekly Times, May 2012).
Victorian Shire wants CSG banned on agricultural land (Food magazine, May 2012).
Colac's push for CSG moratorium (Stock and Land, May 2012) http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/general/...
Friends of the Earth support Council push (Colac Herald, May 2012). http://www.colacherald.com.au/2012/04/friends-of-earth-support-council-p...
Momentum builds for moratorium on new coal and gas (Stock and Land, April 2012). http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/politica...
Councillor calls for gas mining ban (Colac Herald, April 2012). http://www.colacherald.com.au/2012/04/councillor-calls-for-gas-mining-ba...
Calls to ban CSG fracking in Victoria (The Weekly Times, April 2012). http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/04/12/468625_politics-news...
Calls to ban fossil fuel projects (Stock and Land, April 2012). http://stage.sl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/ge...
Labor call to ban fracking (The Age, April 2012). http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/labor-call-to-ban-fracking-20120411-1w...
Gippsland ban for coal, gas mining (The Weekly Times, March 2012)
CSG miners head south (The Weekly Times)
CSG could hinder jobs in Gippsland (The Weekly Times)
Mining application rights withdrawn (Latrobe Valley Express)
Victorian Government MP backs anti-mining call (ABC)
Victorians warned to fight coal seam plans (The Age, October 2011)
Miner abandons coal-seam gas search (Colac Herald, October 2011)
Victorians join anti-coal seam gas rebellion, Green Left Weekly, Sept 2011
What interests will the Victorian Government look after? Anglesea News, August 2011
Call for government ban on coal seam gas, Castlemaine Independent, August 2011
Community win against coal seam gas bid, GLW, August 2011
Resource company cuts exploration plan, Warrnambool Standard, August 2011
[above: the map shows coal reserves in Victoria. The Department of Primary Industry says that coal deposits are 'prospective for coal bed methane' (CSG).]
opposing CSG in Victoria
This section includes details on our campaign alerts. We intend to post action alerts whenever a new coal, Tight Gas or CSG exploration license is lodged with the relevant government department (DPI).
Please feel free to contact us via <email@example.com> if you hear of applications being proposed in your area.
For details on Tight Gas and other forms of 'unconventional' gas, please check here.
CURRENT ACTIONS and PROJECTS
(EL means exploration license)
The following are current proposals for new coal or gas being put forward in Victoria.
Lakes Oil, through its 100% owned subsidiary Commonwealth Mining has 2 exploration leases which allow them to look for brown coal and CSG. These coincide with its petroleum lease PRL2.
The company says "based on previous drilling reports an independent report has been prepared which shows that this lease has the potential for a significant quantity of high quality brown coal".
Commonwealth Mining Pty Ltd has lodged an application for a permit to explore for coal and coal seam gas (CSG, also know as coal bed methane, or CBM) for an area of Gippsland to the north east of Traralgon, covering the localities of Toongabbie and Cowwarr. It covers private land and road and road reserves.
We have until14 November to lodge an objection.
UPDATE: the period for objections is now over. DPI has indicated that the application may be approved by the end of the year.
Check here for details.
ECI International Pty Ltd has an Exploration Licence to look for coal bed methane (CSG) in the area from Pakenham South and Koo-wee-rup north almost to Bunyip and eastwards to (and covering) Drouin, Warragul and Nilma.
Information available here.
This lease is held by Leichhardt Resources Pty Ltd. The company is exploring for Coal Bed Methane and Coal (Brown or Black)
Check here for further information.
The CSG roadshow
This series of forums featured Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate.
We covered Western VIC and held events in Warrnambool, Colac, Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne. October 3 - 7 2011.
Many thanks to our partners: Environment Defenders Office, Sustainable Agriculture and Communities Alliance, Otway Ranges Climate Action, Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions, Geelong Sustainability Group.
CSG in western Victoria? (EL 5371 and 5372)
NB: the company has now withdrawn their applications to look for CSG.
Please put in a submission against exploration applications for coal and CSG in western Victoria. These must be put in by August 21.
You can find information here.
Please check here to read our response to the news that Mecrus Resources, the mining company who has applied for exploratory mineral mining licences throughout SW Victoria, has taken Coal Seam Gas and Coal off the list of resources they will explore for.
[above: looking north from near Toongabbie, Gippsland]
In the past few months, Environment Victoria has done a great job of raising community awareness about the threat posed to rural Victoria from a massive wave of exploration for coal.
Hidden in the detail of this story is the fact that some exploration licenses that have been issued are for coal seam gas (CSG) exploration, as well as for conventional coal.
It is not clear what the intentions of the state government are with CSG. It is being strongly resisted by environmentalists and rural communities in Queensland and NSW.
We urge the Victorian government to rule out the use of ‘fracking’. Harvesting CSG involves drilling 300 to 1200 metres below ground to reach gas trapped in the coal seam. Gas is released through a process called “fracking”, in which water, sand and various chemicals are pumped into the seam, causing it to fracture.
The following article, from the Epoch Times, highlights some of the problems of CSG fracking operations and the resistance to the expansion of this industry.
And, as with the likelihood of a massive expansion of production of conventional coal here in the state, the prospect of CSG in Victoria does put the coal vs renewables question into sharp contrast. What would you prefer in your backyard: a wind farm or a coal or CSG operation?
If you are interested in helping ensure that fracking is banned in Victoria, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
other resources and information
Information sheet on CSG
Threat of CSG operations in western Victoria
This article comes from the Warrnambool Standard. Journalist: Peter Collins. 3 August 2011.
Lock the Gte Alliance. http://lockthegate.org.au/