Coal gas will boost economy: Ryan
COAL seam gas has the potential to benefit South Gippsland’s economy, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said.
“This is about examining the capacity to add to the diversity of our community and our economy in a way that does no harm, but will on the other hand offer the prospect of encouraging employment and economic activity for us,” he told The Star.
The Gippsland South MLA has pledged to meet with the public to discuss their concerns, but not until more information about the industry comes to hand.
The Star last week urged Mr Ryan to visit the electorate to meet with constituents to discuss their concerns about coal seam gas.
Mr Ryan chatted with coal seam gas protesters at Koonwarra briefly on Friday, before entering a National Party function at the hall.
He said coal seam gas mining would only be allowed if miners proved their extraction techniques posed no threat to the environment, agriculture and the water table.
“My approach to coal seam gas is that we are continually looking for ways of adding value to our communities and diversifying our economic base,” Mr Ryan said.
While exploration could occur in the region with 18 months, Mr Ryan said the process of securing a mining licence was far more “tortuous, time consuming and rigid”, and believed regulations were strong enough to protect other industries and human health.
“The fact is, there is not the slightest, remotest prospect of any production of coal seam gas in some form for many, many years, even if it is that a discovery is confirmed,” he said.
“People can be assured that whatever happens, there are an enormous number of checks and balances in place to make sure that we are in no way adversely impacted by any of this process.
“I, as the local member, as Deputy Premier, and as Minister for Regional and Rural Development, but primarily as someone who has had the honour to represent the region for 20 years, will give that undertaking to our community.”
Mr Ryan said the safety of water tables would be paramount, even during exploration.
“Unless there is a guarantee that is given that in no way will the water table will be undermined, they will simply not be permitted to look for it, yet along extract it,” he said.
Mr Ryan said his commitment to the electorate remained as strong as ever, declaring it “one of the most magnificent” regions in Australia.
“Agriculture is our heartbeat. There is no conceivable way I will permit the prospect of any damage being done,” he said.
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