I live in Gippsland, a region which up until recently has been covered in a patchwork of exploration licences for coal bed methane, brown and black coal reserves, and petroleum reserves. This is one of the most fertile and beautiful places in Victoria.
The Andrews Labor Government passed legislation to ban Fracking in early 2017, but there is only a three-year moratorium on onshore conventional gas development. I wrote this blog in 2014, but the threat of new coal and gas developments remains current.
The photo above is from North Seaspray, near Sale, behind the 90 Mile Beach.
The Minerals Council of Australia has said that ‘there is enormous potential for Coal Seam Methane (CSG) industry in Victoria’. The industry’s focus is on two main gas basins – one extends right throughout Gippsland, and to the west the Otway Basin extends all the way to the South Australian border.
The Government has strongly promoted the establishment of an onshore unconventional gas industry. The community has forced them to pull back from giving the ‘green light’ time and time again. Gippsland’s communities strongly oppose establishing onshore gas fields for unconventional gas reserves such as coal seam, tight and shale gas.
In 2012 the Victorian Parliament’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee (EDIC) tabled the report (22 May) into greenfields mineral exploration in Victoria. The Committee Chair, Neale Burgess MP said: ‘one of the key recommendations of the report is for the Victorian Government to adopt a ’one-stop-shop’ approach to regulation of the exploration, mining and extractives industries’. The Government established a moratorium on 24 August 2012, saying that they were waiting for a national approach on the issue to be developed. The government then commissioned Victorian Gas Market Taskforce Report 2013 (led by Peter Reith) which recommended that an onshore gas industry be established. After a community outcry, the government extended the moratorium on 21 Nov 2013, ostensibly to provide for a community consultation process. It expanded it in 28 May 2014 to include all new works approvals. The moratorium is due to expire in July 2015.
While the moratorium is in place, companies can continue to prepare their plans to start an onshore gas industry. All it takes is a works approval once the moratorium expires.
We need a permanent ban on all onshore coal and gasfield development.