Rural and urban Alliance calls on State Government to ban new fossil fuel projects

MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 12 April

Rural and urban Alliance calls on State Government to ban new fossil fuel projects

Victorian government wants more coal – the community wants farmland and clean water

As Victoria faces a wave of exploration licences for coal seam gas (CSG), coal, and tight gas, there is growing opposition to this industry. “Community groups have formed across the ‘coal belt’ of southern Victoria, from the Otways to Wonthaggi to Toongabbie” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker. “Clearly local farmers and residents do not want to see their lands and water sacrificed for short term fossil fuel development.”

“In Queensland and New South Wales there is a massive community backlash against the CSG industry” said Merryn Redenbach, spokesperson for Quit Coal. “Elsewhere in Australia, governments and individual members of parliament are standing up against the growth of CSG exploration and new coal mining in rural and urban areas. Locally, the Bass Coast Council has called for a ban on mining and gas operations, and Liberal MP Ken Smith has supported this demand”.

Mr Walker said “the only response from the government of Ted Baillieu has been to increase opportunities for further coal development. Just this week it was reported that the Baillieu government is working on a strategy to try to head off community objections to its plans to develop Victoria’s brown coal reserves.”

An alliance of 36 groups has today called on the Victorian government to ban all new on-shore coal and un-conventional gas operations until there has been a thorough investigation into the likely impacts of this industry on:

  •     water resources,
  •     farmland and food security,
  •     local communities and natural biodiversity, and
  •     greenhouse emissions.

Sue Anderson, a dairy farmer from near Bunyip, said “the industry needs to provide guarantees for the integrity of aquifers and surface water before it is allowed to proceed.  Blind Freddy could see that mining is detrimental to the production of food.  In a competition between food and coal seam gas, food has to win.”

“In the specific case of our area in West Gippsland, any government that approves CSG operations where 15% of Melbourne’s food is produced must be both barking mad and broke”.

Community member from Toongabbie, Tracey Anton, said “rural communities, state wide, are forming powerful alliances with environmental organisations against new mining explorations and development. Why? Because in our time of need, they are the only ones there to answer our questions.  To prevent the social and economic erosion of our communities, will Government and Industry work with us or against us?”

“The government is pretending there is no problem with new fossil fuel developments in Victoria” said Mr Walker. “Recent revelations that it is considering new coal allocations shows that they are out of step with community sentiment across rural Victoria. It is time they made their position clear: will they support a call for a moratorium?”

For further comment:
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth 0419 338 047

Groups which have supported this statement

To add your group please email cam.walker@foe.org.au

Ararat Greenhouse Action Group Inc
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Benalla Sustainable Future Group
Beyond Zero Emissions
Brimbank Climate Action Network (BrimbankCAN)
Climate Action Moreland
Climate Action Network Australia (CANA)
Climate and Health Alliance
Community Over Mining (Gippsland)
Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Assoc Inc
Darebin Climate Action Now
Emerald for Sustainability (EmFSus)
Environment Victoria
Friends of Gippsland Bush Inc. (FOGB)
Friends of the Earth
G CAN [Geelong Chemical Action Network Inc]
Global Warming Action Party Australia, East Gippsland
Gippsland Environment Group Inc (Bairnsdale)
Gippsland Action Group
GreenLeap Institute
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Groundswell Bass Coast
INC3
Lighter Footprints
Locals Into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE)
Lock The Gate Alliance
MADGE Australia Inc
Moonee Valley Climate Action
Nillumbik Climate Action Now
Quit Coal
Surf Coast Energy Group
The Wilderness Society
Western Regional Environment Centre
Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH)
WTree Progress & Promotion Association
Yarra Climate Action Now

Who supports this moratorium?

More than 1,100 individuals have signed the petition calling for a moratorium. http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-dangerous-coal-seam-gas-mining-in-victoria

Adam Bandt, Federal MP for Melbourne
Colleen Hartland, State Upper House MP for Western Metropolitan
Greg Barber, State Upper House MP for Northern Metropolitan

What are people saying about a moratorium & fossil fuel impacts on rural Victoria?

ALP

The state opposition supports the call for a moratorium on new coal-seam gas exploration.

Opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio said there were growing concerns about coal-seam gas projects. ”New evidence has emerged that raises questions about the safety, health and environmental impacts of coal seam gas exploration, and it’s important these concerns are fully investigated”.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/labor-call-to-ban-fracking-20120411-1wsbi.html#ixzz1rlaovflb

Alex Arbuthnot, from the Victorian Farmers’ Federation, says areas of high food production should be protected from CSG mining.
“Food security, following the adoption of a national food plan and perhaps a Victorian food plan next year … is going to become a major, major issue,” he told the Victorian inquiry.

“I have flagged to the mining industry here, there could be some no-go zones for food.”

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/farmers-call-for-csg-nogo-zones-in-vic-20110919-1khph.html

In March 2012, the Bass Coast shire voted to reject exploration for coal and gas within its jurisdiction.
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/03/23/460155_latest-news.html

Colac Otway shire mayor Brian Crook said in 2011 that a ban on exploration was essential until the government improved its “seriously flawed” consultation process and could assess the impact of mining.

“Until we have the process evaluated and there is a 100-per-cent guarantee there will be no impact on aquifers and the community is happy with it, coal-seam gas exploration must stop,” Cr Crook said.

He said the council called for the mining companies to abandon exploration and would push for the support of major political parties in the Colac district’s fight against coal-seam mining.

http://www.colacherald.com.au/2011/09/coal-seam-gas-miners-resist-demands/

Federal Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman, who is a qualified geologist, supports a call to ban Coal seam gas mining.

“There’s absolute community outrage. Western Victorian has some very valuable environmental assets and highly productive agricultural land and this industry has been proven to do tremendous damage.”
http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2011/10/06/283971_news.html

State MP for Bass (Gippsland) and Liberal party member Ken Smith has supported the call for a ban on exploration for coal and gas within his electorate.
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/03/23/460155_latest-news.html

“We’ve got a farming community down here and the last thing that we need to have now is people exploring the countryside from the shoreline up into the hills looking to dig the place up,”

The Weekly Times editorial: “The risks of mining CSG are real; the benefits temporary and the profits go to mining fat-cats”.

A polluted aquifer could end food production in an agricultural region indefinitely – a contaminated aquifer is impossible to decontaminate”.

“The Victorian government needs to show it will not be pushed around by mining giants.
It should declare prime food-producing land off-limits to mining”.
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/10/19/396331_opinion-news.html

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