The Premier Denis Napthine has said that 'there will be no fracking on my watch'.
This is a good development, and builds on the current moratorium on fracking and onshore gas drilling activity.
It is now time to directly support communities that have declared themselves coal or gasfield free.
Eight communities in Western Victoria and 19 in Gippsland have completed their surveys and received overwhelming support to declare themselves coal and/or gasfield free.
In community polling in Seaspray, Giffard and The Honeysuckles, in Gippsland, 98% of people supported the proposal to declare the area gasfield free.
It is time the government listened to the community and ruled out any drilling or mining in areas where communities have made coal and gasfield free declarations.
The government has the power to exempt areas from mining. Will the Premier and Energy and Resources Minister support community demands?
Stop Dangerous Coal and Gas Mining in Victoria
To The Hon Denis Napthine, Premier of Victoria
Hon Russell Northe, Minister for Energy and Resources
Dear Premier Napthine and Minister Northe,
Much of the state’s best farmland is under exploration licence for coal seam gas (CSG), coal, tight gas or shale gas and there is the continued threat of new coal allocations. There is a growing community opposition to this industry.
I appreciate that the Victorian government has placed a moratorium on all on-shore unconventional gas operations until 2015.
But if the Coalition government is to really represent rural constituencies, it must support the communities who have declared themselves coal or gasfield free.
Where community polling shows strong opposition to drilling, and communities have declared their intention to remain coal or gasfield free, your government should use the powers it already has under the Petroleum Act and Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act to create exemption zones to ban mining activity in that area.
Where communities that have declared themselves coal or gas free request that mining licenses over their area be revoked, I urge you to support this demand.
Your government has banned wind turbines within five kilometres of major regional centres. Yet coal mines and gas wells can be placed within 100 metres of a house. Human health is put at risk by dust from open cut coal mines, and smoke from mine fires. If the Coalition intends to maintain the 5 km exclusion for turbines, then it needs to extend the ban to include coal and gas within 5 km of regional centres which could be affected by future coal and gas mining.
We expect the government to look after rural landscapes and communities.
You can do this by making the current moratorium on the process of fracking permanent.
You can do this by respecting the wishes of local communities for exemptions from mining and drilling and ruling out any further coal allocations and development of coal infrastructure such as ports.