Bass Coast Council shows leadership in campaign against Coal Seam Gas

July 18, 2013


Friends of the Earth media release


Agriculture is a cornerstone of Victoria’s economy, producing goods valued at around $9 billion a year.

Gippsland, in particular, acts as a food bowl for Melbourne and overseas consumers. Yet it is being squeezed on all sides, with encroachment from urban sprawl on the west, the prospect of negative impacts from climate change, and the potential for a major expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
 

“In its recent response to the Greenfields Mineral Exploration and Project Development  report, the Victorian government made it clear it wants to see the state ‘open for business’ when it comes to new coal and gas operations” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator.

“Faced with the Governments refusal to act decisively to protect farmland from coal and gas, the community is organising itself to oppose this unpopular industry. At the end of this month, Seaspray will become the second community to declare itself gas field free. A growing number of people are also writing to the Energy and Resources minister to ask him to use his powers under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act to create No Go zones by exempting mining from areas of environmental or other value. ”

“Local Councils are also showing leadership. Bass Coast Shire Council has recently written to the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, to express the concerns of both Council and the community after the Government’s release of its response to the Greenfields report”.

“The state government continues to run a double standard when it comes to energy generation. It has blocked off much of the best areas for wind energy in the state through the creation of No Go zones. Yet it refuses to respond to community requests for the same No Go zones for mining. It seems prepared to sacrifice important farm land for short term energy production. In the face of this lack of vision, the leadership being shown by Bass Coast Council is necessary, and will  be welcomed by many in the community.”

Further comment
Cam Walker  0419 338 047

Statement from Bass Coast Council

 

The full statement can be found here: http://news.basscoast.vic.gov.au/council-continues-to-advocate-against-c...

“Council is opposed to coal seam and unconventional gas exploration and mining and considers that the current legislative framework does not provide enough rigour to protect our environment now and for the future generations.”

“Council is particularly concerned about the impact this type of exploration and mining could have on our valuable agricultural industry and environmental biodiversity.”

Based on the concerns outlined, Council requested that the Premier “reconsider the response to ensure these genuine concerns are appropriately addressed through the implementation of future legislative frameworks. Council also requests the current moratorium be extended until such time as these issues have been resolved.”

Some of the concerns outlined included:
·    That the Government’s response to the Inquiry relies heavily on the draft Multiple Land Use Framework, developed by the Standing Council on Energy and Resources – a body comprising the energy and resources ministers of the states and the Commonwealth, and whose main focus is to facilitate “investment in resources exploration and development, particularly land access”.
·    That this Framework, which deals with the very important issues of land use and rights, has not been subject to robust community consultation.
·    That the Framework is based on the assumption of co-existence between mining and existing land uses and a position that, in no circumstances, can there be mutually exclusive land uses.
·    That the government’s response also relies on the development of Regional Growth Plans as a means of determining where mining can occur. This is a flawed assumption, as it is understood that no research has been done into the extent of viable coal seam and unconventional gas resources in Victoria. On this basis the Regional Growth Plans only include data relating to known brown coal reserves for conventional uses.

Council’s letter also references its submission to the Draft National Harmonised Regulatory Framework for Coal Gas Seam, where concerns were explained in more detail.

Council’s position on Coal Seam Gas is based on the following principles:

1.    Protection and enhancement of agricultural land;
2.    Protection and enhancement of our natural environment;
3.    The preservation of the quality of our ground and surface water systems;
4.    Supporting the growth of our tourism sector;
5.    Protecting the amenity of our community:
6.    Protecting the health and safety of our community; and
7.    The long term social, environmental and economic impacts of coal seam and unconventional gas extraction are unknown.