Bass Coast,

Council Continues To Advocate Against Coal Seam Gas

By 2030, it is envisaged the Gippsland region will be a major contributor to achieving the aim of doubling food production in Victoria.

Gippsland’s food manufacturing industry relies on a consistent supply of quality product, and protecting and maintaining Gippsland’s productive agricultural land is essential for the continued growth of the food manufacturing sector.

These are the visions of the Draft Gippsland Regional Growth Plan; yet despite this, residents and prime agricultural land in Bass Coast are still not protected from coal seam and unconvential gas exploration and mining.

Bass Coast Shire Council recently wrote to the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine MP, to express the concerns of both Council and the community after the Government’s release of its response to the Inquiry Greenfields Mineral Exploration and Project Development in Victoria report.

“Council is opposed to coal seam and unconventional gas exploration and mining and considers that the current legislative framework does not provide enough rigour to protect our environment now and for the future generations,” Mr Bawden wrote.

“Council is particularly concerned about the impact this type of exploration and mining could have on our valuable agricultural industry and environmental biodiversity.”

Based on the concerns outlined, Council requested that the Premier “reconsider the response to ensure these genuine concerns are appropriately addressed through the implementation of future legislative frameworks. Council also requests the current moratorium be extended until such time as these issues have been resolved.”

Some of the concerns outlined included:

  • That the Government’s response to the Inquiry relies heavily on the draft Multiple Land Use Framework, developed by the Standing Council on Energy and Resources – a body comprising the energy and resources ministers of the states and the Commonwealth, and whose main focus is to facilitate “investment in resources exploration and development, particularly land access”.
  • That this Framework, which deals with the very important issues of land use and rights, has not been subject to robust community consultation.
  • That the Framework is based on the assumption of co-existence between mining and existing land uses and a position that, in no circumstances, can there be mutually exclusive land uses.
  • That the government’s response also relies on the development of Regional Growth Plans as a means of determining where mining can occur. This is a flawed assumption, as it is understood that no research has been done into the extent of viable coal seam and unconventional gas resources in Victoria. On this basis the Regional Growth Plans only include data relating to known brown coal reserves for conventional uses.

Council’s letter also references its submission to the Draft National Harmonised Regulatory Framework for Coal Gas Seam, where concerns were explained in more detail.

Council’s position on Coal Seam Gas is based on the following principles:

  1. Protection and enhancement of agricultural land;
  2. Protection and enhancement of our natural environment;
  3. The preservation of the quality of our ground and surface water systems;
  4. Supporting the growth of our tourism sector;
  5. Protecting the amenity of our community:
  6. Protecting the health and safety of our community; and
  7. The long term social, environmental and economic impacts of coal seam and unconventional gas extraction are unknown.