A CROWD of more than 100 people braved hot and windy conditions in Mirboo North on Sunday to celebrate that town and surrounding farming areas are committed to remaining free of coal and coal seam gas mining.
A survey showed 96 per cent of the community want Mirboo North to remain Coal Seam Gas free.
The celebrations, held in Mirboo North’s Baromi Park, featured speeches, a colourful street parade, live music, an art exhibition and stalls showcasing local produce.
The event gained wide support from both community members and businesses alike, with many local enterprises getting behind the celebrations and showing their solidarity with the cause.
The survey was conducted by Coal and Coal Seam Gas Free Mirboo North over the past 12 months and follows similar community-led action in the South Gippsland communities Poowong and Harmers Haven.
The Mirboo North survey is the biggest survey of its kind ever to be completed in Victoria, representing a community of over 2000 people.
“After 12 months of surveying it’s my absolute pleasure to see Mirboo North declared coal and coal seam gas free,” group member Marg Thomas said.
“Our community stands united today to say ‘yes’ to a clean, healthy future for our kids and grandkids.”
Ms Thomas said the area was an agricultural powerhouse, producing high quality crops, beef and dairy products.
“For tourism, we’re open for business. For farming, we’re open for business. For shops and services, we’re open for business. But we’re not open for business for coal and coal seam gas mining,” she said.
“We don’t want to see our beautiful green rolling hills turned into a matrix of gas wells, pipelines and industrial infrastructure or dug up as another coal pit.”
Local farmer and South Gippsland Shire councillor Don Hill spoke at the event, saying that he heard the calls from the community and that ‘coal seam gas and farming do not mix’.
Co-coordinator of Lock the Gate Victoria, Ursula Alquier, said the movement against coal and coal seam gas mining is growing fast.
“Mirboo North is the fifth town in Gippsland to declare itself a no-go zone for invasive mining and it won’t be the last,” Ursula said.
“We’re urging our State and Federal leaders to listen to their constituents and take decisive action to protect rural communities.”