Farmland not Gasfields

Most of Gippsland’s farmland is under exploration for coal, Coal seam gas (CSG), Tight or Shale gas.

The Energy Minister Nick Kotsiras has the power to declare any land off limits to coal and gas mining under the Minerals Act.

 

What’s going on?

Gippsland produces more than $1.3 billion worth of food each year. New coal and gas operations will impact on tourism and quality of life for locals, and could lead to contamination of groundwater, as well as adding to greenhouse gas emissions.

We cannot allow the risk of some of our best farmland being damaged by coal mining and gas drilling.

Community opposition forced the state government to announce a moratorium on the process of Fracking for gas in August 2012. It is not yet clear when the government will lift the moratorium, although we believe it will happen by November after a period of ‘consultation’ with the community. The government has made it clear that it wants to see Victoria ‘open for business’ when it comes to new coal and gas.

Once the moratorium on the process of Fracking is lifted, we can expect to see drilling operations starting in western Victoria and Gippsland, especially for Tight Gas.

Based on the experience in Queensland, we do not believe that farming and the fossil fuel industry can co-exist peacefully in the same area. It has caused widespread tension and anger in QLD and NSW. Farmers, who are already under economic pressure, now have possible ground water contamination and other impacts to contend with.


What do we want?

We call for a permanent ban on any new coal and gas mining operations in key areas in Victoria.

This should include a ban on any exploration or production in:
•    productive agricultural areas
•    drinking water catchments, near rivers, and where ground water supplies could be impacted
•    urban areas, and areas marked for future urban development
•    all public land including state forests, land leased to plantation companies and all conservation reserves

Local Councils also must have the ability to nominate additional areas for protection.

Under Part 2, section 7 of the existing Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act, the Energy Minister can easily create No Go zones for coal and coal seam gas. The only thing lacking is political will.

 


[above: much of Gippsland is under exploration licence for CSG or coal]

TAKE ACTION


Our best chance to stop this industry is before it gets established. Please take action and help us build pressure on the government.


1/ Please sign our petition.

An easy starting point is to sign our petition.

And please share it with your friends and contacts.

2/ call the Energy Minister – this will take about 4 minutes

According to section 7 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act, the Minister has the power to protect all areas from mining.

The Act says:

The Minister may, by writing signed by him or her, exempt any land from being subject to an exploration licence or a mining licence, or both.

(2) The Minister may grant an exemption for any reason he or she decides to be appropriate, including but not limited to the following reasons—
(a) if, in the Minister's opinion, the exemption is required to protect land that is of significant environmental importance;

If you live in a farming area under an exploration permit, you should consider asking the Minister to exempt your community from mining. The more information you provide, the harder it will be for the Minister’s office to ignore your request.

The Minister responsible for this Act is Nicholas Kotsiras.

Please call the Minister’s office, on (03) 9651 1156. Just say that you would like to leave a message for the Minister, give your name and address, and express your concern at the threat posed by new coal and gas operations in some of our best farmland.

Tell them that the Victorian government needs to hold an inquiry into the likely impacts of the on-shore gas industry on:


·    water resources,
·    farmland and food security,
·    local communities and natural biodiversity, and
·    greenhouse emissions.

If they don’t have this information, they have no right to agree to gas drilling operations.

Please tell them that they should respect community requests for the creation of No Go zones.

And make sure you follow up with an email too: nicholas.kotsiras@parliament.vic.gov.au

Please let us know you have called: cam.walker@foe.org.au


3/ Demand that your community is protected

You can also demand that the government protect your community from mining by using powers in the existing minerals legislation by getting organised locally.

On February 17, the Gippsland town of Poowong formally declared itself CSG Free. A number of other communities are moving to make similar declarations.

On Sunday July 28, the township of Seaspray will become the second community to declare itself gasfield free, with a public celebration. All welcome.

Check here for details.

Check here for ideas on declaring yourself coal or CSG free.

If you would like support in declaring yourself coal or gas free, please contact Ursula. ursula.alquier@foe.org.au

If you want to write to the Minister, asking him to declare a No Go Zone for your area, check here for a draft letter you could send.


4/ Join the campaign for a moratorium on coal and gas

More than 60 groups have supported our call for a moratorium on new coal and gas operations. And 6 local councils have supported the call for a moratorium on CSG.

If you are active in any form of environmental, farming, business or community group and can support this call, please contact David Unwin. david.unwin@me.com

Further details here.

5/ Write to your local State Member of Praliament

You can find your local member by putting your postcode into this form.

Express your concerns about the threat posed by coal and gas. Tell them its an issue that will influence your vote at the 2014 state election. Please ask themn if they will publically support local communities who have called for the creation of No Go Zones.

6/ Please support our campaign

We are looking for people to help with:


·    Letter boxing
·    Community outreach – including info stalls, door knocking and doing community polling, etc
·    Visiting your MPs and writing to the media
·    Mobilising your friends and communities

If you’re keen to get involved, please get in touch: cam.walker@foe.org.au

Donate to support our work. We rely on individuals to keep our campaign going.

Become a member of Friends of the Earth.

Sign up for a monthly email newsletter on our work against coal and gas and in support of renewable energy. Just send an email to cam.walker@foe.org.au with SUBSCRIBE RENEWABLES in the subject line.

Check here for details on Quit Coal’s campaigns in Gippsland.

For further information, please contact Cam Walker: cam.walker@foe.org.au 0419 338 047

What is Tight Gas?


Check here for a summary of what Tight Gas is and what companies are looking for it in Victoria.