Environmentalists take on CSG companies

LOCALS are being asked to dob in a driller, as part of an initiative to monitor coal seam gas exploration in the area.

While the state government has placed a short term moratorium on the process of fracking in Victoria, exploration for coal and gas (and drilling for gas without the use of fracking) can continue.

The onshore gas industry, which is focused on coal seam gas and tight gas, is not yet established in Victoria.

However Friends of the Earth’s Cam Walker said the experience in northern states showed the industry would have huge impacts on land and water resources and rural communities if it was allowed to proceed, and was being strongly opposed by people in Victoria.

“We continue to receive phone calls from rural people concerned about miners negotiating access to properties for exploration activities,” Mr Walker said.

He said as a result, a range of groups had decided to launch Drill Watch so the community could track what was happening in their local area.

Mr Walker urged people to phone 1300 852 081 to report the details on any drilling operations they saw, or where they heard companies were trying to negotiate access agreements with land owners.

“We will build a database of the physical locations of all land access negotiations, exploring and drilling operations across Gippsland,” Mr Walker said.

“Where we have names of companies, we will follow up directly with them.”

“One of the largest land managers in Gippsland, HVP Plantations, has so far refused to rule out negotiating with companies for access for exploration,” Mr Walker said.

“We also want to hear about large land owners, like plantation companies, negotiating access agreements.”

Lock the Gate Gippsland’s Kelly van den Burg said coal seam gas companies had previously infiltrated communities “like a silent cancer, setting up unannounced and forcing landowners to legal silence”.

“Drill Watch enables the public of Gippsland to work together and actually track the activities of the mining companies,” she said.

She said people had a right to know where CSG operations were planned and who would be affected by them.

THE COAL Seam Gas Wellington Awareness Group will host a night of short films under the banner of “The Truth About Gas in Australia” on Monday from 6pm at Delbridge Hall, Sale.

Entry will be by gold coin donation. There will be a sausage sizzle on the night.

THE Department of Primary Industries will host a community information session on the regulation of exploration and mining for minerals and onshore gas on next Tuesday between 3pm and 8pm at GippsTAFE, Princes Highway, Traralgon.

The event will run as a drop-in session where local residents can come at a time that is convenient to them and talk directly with representatives of the agencies at a number of different booths.

For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.