LOCALS at a coal seam gas information night in Darnum on Friday overwhelmingly supported the idea of declaring Baw Baw coal seam gas-free.
Pictured: Mark Ogge of The Australia Institute, Dr Jo McCubbin from Doctors for the Environment, and lawyer for community law firm Environmental Defenders Office Nick Croggon. Images by author.
Over 100 people attended the event organised by the Baw Baw Sustainability Network, most of whom voted in support of action to stop any CSG mining in the area.
Coal seam gas exploration licenses are in place over Baw Baw but no mining licenses have been granted in Victoria.
Mark Ogge of The Australia Institute, Dr Jo McCubbin from Doctors for the Environment, and lawyer for community law firm Environmental Defenders Office Nick Croggon spoke at the event.
The speakers warned of loss of agricultural land, damage to water tables and possible earthquakes if the process of extracting gas from coal seams called hydraulic fracturing, also called “fracking”, were to take place in the region.
Mr Croggon told The Warragul Citizen movements in New South Wales and Poowong to declare areas CSG-free had proven effective.
LISTEN: Nick Croggon interviewed by The Warragul Citizen about CSG rights:
“That seems to have been a really effective community technique in New South Wales and in Poowong, so maybe that’s one thing communities could do,” Mr Croggon said after the event.
Mr Croggon also said local government could have a role in stopping coal seam gas mining in the area.
“Councils do have a role down the track – new mines sometimes need planning permission and it’s the council that would usually grant that, their opposition could be expressed at the point,” Mr Croggon said.
Pictured: Former Baw Baw Sustainability Network President Malcolm McKelvie holds a “Lock the Gate” sign.
“Councils have a pretty strong voice for their community, so if a council comes out against coal seam gas then that’s a pretty powerful message to the state government that perhaps we need to toughen up our laws and perhaps we don’t want CSG in Victoria.”
Speakers also mentioned the risk of water contamination from CSG mining-related evaporative ponds during flooding events.
Local Water Watcher and landowner John Poppins told The Warragul Citizen his concerns about possible negative effects of CSG mining in the area were “enormous.”
“Even forgetting the chemicals that they want to inject and the gasses and the things… just the amount of saline water and the impacts of that salinity when it’s brought to the surface,” Mr Poppins said.
LISTEN: John Poppins interviewed by The Warragul Citizen about CSG and water: