Coal seam gas mining banned in Victoria
A QUIET farm in Jumbunna was chosen as the ideal location to announce an Australian first – Victoria would permanently ban the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas in Victoria, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and coal seam gas (CSG).
The ban will be legislated in parliament later this year.
The announcement came after years of lobbying around the state and the exhaustive 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria.
That inquiry received over 1600 submissions, many from farmers in South Gippsland.
“This is about making a fundamental choice to put farmers and our clean green brand first, that we value the best part of $12 billion of economic output and nearly 200,000 jobs, that we value that so very much as Victorians,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“We’ve listened to the community in making the decision that puts farmers and our clean green brand first.”
Minister for Resources Wade Noonan said the announcement would “bring comfort to many who had been waiting for leadership on the issue.
“When I came to this area, what stood out is that the environment is the economy – not just in Gippsland but in regional and rural Victoria,” he said.
“If you do things that compromise the environment and in particular water security you compromise the agricultural sector.
“That is why we are announcing the permanent ban on unconventional onshore gas.”
A moratorium remains on the exploration and development of conventional on shore gas until June 30, 2020.
The government said it will continue to support offshore resource development.
Local anti-CSG campaigners Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North applauded the decision and on Tuesday went out to celebrate after four long years of lobbying, petitioning and rallying support.
Group spokeswoman Marg Thomas said the group was “relieved”.
“We’re very excited about the unconventional gas ban and are so relieved that the threat of this has been permanently removed,” she said.
“Our farmers are most grateful and can now consider the future of their farming enterprises in a new more positive light.
“Our diverse business community can now confidently think about investing in the future. Our lifestyle and environment have been protected.
“The wishes of our communities have been heard.
“The Andrews Government and the Resource Minister, Wade Noonan, took a brave step in the face of relentless pressure from mining companies, APPEA (peak body for the oil and gas industry), the Minerals Council and a recent push Federally by COAG to open up Victoria to unconventional gas mining.
“In view of this we were surprised when a total ban was decided.
“However, considering the huge groundswell of opposition across all demographics, realistically no other decision would be tenable.
“We now look forward to the ban being enshrined in legislation.”
Ms Thomas said while the group is celebrating now, its work is not over.
She highlighted concerns with conventional onshore gas exploration, and the coal exploration licences that remain over the Mirboo North district.
“Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North will still be pursuing the rescinding of the Mantle Mining coal exploration licences in our region,” she said.
“We have made it unattractive for Mantle Mining to pursue any exploration or mining activities as we have been able to get the affected councils and the wider community on-board in opposition to Mantle’s intentions.
“But for now we are enjoying the results of four years of hard work.”
Community members are invited to celebrate the ban at a community barbecue in Mirboo North on Sunday, September 18.
Supporters are invited to bring a picnic lunch or barbecue to Baromi Park, Ridgway Street, Mirboo North at 1pm.
More reports in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
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