Anti-CSG mining campaigner Phil Piper from Mirboo North said the council must do more to reiterate its stance against CSG and unconventional gas mining. He is flanked by fellow members of the CSG Free Mirboo North group including Gayle Margaret, Suzanne Wightman, Marg Thomas and Joy Downes.
DESPITE being one of the first councils in Victoria to announce its anti-Coal Seam Gas (CSG) and unconventional gas mining stance, the community of Mirboo North says more should be done to protect the region. The CSG Free Mirboo North group praised Bass Coast Shire Council for its very vocal anti-CSG shire. CSG Free Mirboo North member Phil Piper said the group was concerned the South Gippsland Shire Council was not listening or supporting the concerns of the people in the shire in regard to coal and unconventional gas mining. He called for council’s support in representing the community, which had strong support for anti-CSG groups in the region. “There are six anti coal and CSG groups in our shire, plus another 30 in the remainder of Gippsland – more groups will be starting up in October,” he said. “Many regions in Gippsland are undertaking extensive surveys asking if their communities support being coal and gas mining free. “This process is indicating an overwhelming support to keep mining out of Gippsland. “Our own district of Mirboo North is showing more than 96 per cent support.” Mr Piper warned however that the opposition to coal and gas mining could be undermined by the State Government. He said it was essential councils, being the government closest to the people, stand up for its residents, agriculture, tourism values and water sources. “We have a state government which says in relation to mining “we are open for business” and “Gippsland could be the next Pilbara”. “…We want you to write to the government … and demand that the current moratorium [banning fracking] remains in place until it is proven that there is absolutely no risk to our precious farmlands and water, and to the health and safety of our community. “We also request that you act in an advocacy role in relation to this very important issue and have your actions prominently displayed on your website. “Twelve months ago a whole bunch of people from Mirboo North attended a shire meeting asking council to take a strong position on the moratorium, which you did, but there hasn’t been much done since or at least we haven’t been notified. “It seems to us that now that APPEA (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association) has spent $150 million on the gas shortage furphy, even though most of the money it makes goes overseas, we’re just ordinary people in a grass-roots organisation. “We want you to represent us, like you were elected to do.”
Mayor Kieran Kennedy said council remained committed to its anti-CSG position. He said council had concerns over granting CSG mining licences on eight key points: * Noise in rural areas; * Aquifer depletion and contamination; * Saline water and salt storage; * Chemical usage in exploration and extraction; * Traffic and road surface implications of exploration and extraction activities; * Health and safety relating to required infrastructure; * Disruption to agricultural activities in general but dairying in particular; and * Effects on the tourism sector especially nature-based tourism. “Every meeting the CEO and I have attended with politicians of all levels, we have reiterated our position; that is to protect our land, water and tourism values,” Cr Kennedy said. “We are continuing to play our part, even though it may be in the background.” Council ‘took on notice’ the suggestion to include its position on gas and unconventional mining on its website.