Community gas forum

CONCERNED locals had the chance to have any questions about coal seam gas exploration answered at an community information session held in Sale.

Following on from a forum hosted by the Victorian Farmers Federation on Thursday morning, the session was open to all residents in Wellington Shire and featured representatives from Southern Rural Water, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Primary Industries – the regulating body for coal seam gas exploration in Victoria.

Representatives at the session fielded questions and concerns relating to the exploration and mining process, policy, geology, exploration licences, compliance and enforcement.

DPI executive director for earth resources regulation Victoria Doug Sceney explained the role of the information sessions, which would be held across Victoria in the coming weeks, was to offer locals a chance to learn more about the coal seam gas exploration process and to relay any concerns about the ramifications of gas exploration and mining to the DPI.

“These sessions have created an opportunity for locals to talk with us and to get some factual information about coal seam gas,” Mr Sceney said.

“Currently, there’s a lot of information circulating the community about coal seam gas, and some of it is good information, and some of it is bad information.

“The purpose of these sessions is to try and give residents some factual and proper information about the processes.”

Mr Sceney said some of the main issues brought to the attention of the DPI by locals had included uncertainty about mining companies gaining access to land, as well as fears about the environmental impacts of coal seam gas mining.

“We’re certainly trying to give people a range of information for when it comes to coal seam gas exploration,” Mr Sceney said.

Seaspray resident Mick Bell, who attended the information session, said he found the information session to be helpful but still had reservations about coal seam gas exploration.

“It’s definitely a concern of mine, how coal seam gas mining would affect everyone,” Mr Bell said.

“I’m worried it may pollute the water table, and I feel there should be a moratorium on coal seam mining until we know all the facts about what it can do for certain.”