Region faces destruction
SOUTH Gippsland would be ruined forever if coal seam gas mining was permitted, protestors told South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday.
They claimed coal seam gas would cause cancer and ruin agriculture. Devastating bushfires would be inflamed by gas wells and mining could lead to earthquakes bigger than last Tuesday’s tremor. Communities would be split by pro and con camps.
More than 200 people filled council’s chambers during two public sessions, lobbying council to ask the State Government for a moratorium on the approval of coal seam gas exploration and mining licences in the shire.
Cr Kieran Kennedy has tabled a notice of motion to that effect to be debated at tomorrow’s council meeting, specifying the moratorium remain until all chemicals used during gas mining are proven to be safe.
Some protestors called on council to demand a ban on the controversial mining technique.
Protestors filled the chamber, sat on the floor between councillors, stood around the room and spilled into the foyer.
Many people were from Mirboo North, now the subject of three exploration licences. Rumours abounded that exploration drilling had already started in Nicholls Road.
Others came from Korumburra, Outtrim and Venus Bay. Many people were joined by children.
Mirboo North Anglican minister Geoff Pittaway said “we live in a society that clamours for the rights of the people to be heard”.
“I urge you to respect the need for a moratorium, if not a complete ban,” he said.
Linda Hall said the chemicals used by gas mining posed an alarming health risk, labelling the mining as “genocidal” and “treasonous”.
“Companies would not be able to come in and inject these poisons directly into people, but through coal seam gas mining they would be able to introduce these into our water,” she said.
Angela Carey, a mother of three from Mirboo North, endured the 2009 bushfires.
“What would happen when Gippsland is full of gas wells and the next bushfire comes through?” she said.
Dr Margaret Lynn of Berrys Creek said coal seam gas would turn South Gippsland into an “industrial wasteland”.
“This is not the economic diversity we were wanting,” she said, saying road networks would “occupy vast tracts of land”.
Janet Carey of Venus Bay said State and Federal governments were “playing catch-up”.
“This industry is growing at such a pace that existing frameworks are inadequate and in my view, all they do is protect the rights of miners over communities,” she said.
Ms Carey said the Venus Bay Peninsula was subject to an exploration licence by Leichhardt Resources despite being a “fragile sandspit”.
Cr Kennedy quipped the peninsula could end up in Tasmania should mining proceed.
Carolyn Robertson of Mirboo North said water shortages were already an issue in Australia and that coal seam gas would contaminate groundwater supplies.
“As councillors you have been elected to be stewards of the people in our shire. We ask you to not allow exploration activity on any shire land; that is our land,” she said.
Denyse Menzies of Nicholls Road believed exploration had already begun in her road and was “horrified”.
“The mining processes and agriculture in South Gippsland are not compatible,” she said, adding chemical tainted water holding ponds could cause acid rain.
“If we go down this path, it certainly is not repairable. We have everything in South Gippsland, in the future we will be a foodbowl for Victoria.”
Helen Groen said she loved Mirboo North and did not want the community destroyed by gas mining.
“Please stop it if you can but if not, just do your best,” she urged council.
That view was echoed by Judith Bridges of Mirboo North and her daughter Sarah Bridges.
“They (miners) are big players and we can’t let them just come through and take big profits and leave us with a scarred and deserted landscape,” Sarah said.
Lillian Watsford of Berrys Creek said “money can’t replace what we have got here.”
Kelly Schilke of Mirboo told council “if you agree with coal seam gas, you will need to change your logo as you will have no beauty and no lifestyle”.
Phil Piper showed a map of the shire, indicating most of the shire was subject to exploration leases.
Mike Cleeland, a geology teacher at the Bass Coast Adult Education Centre at Wonthaggi, said the incidence of earthquakes in the United States of America had increased by six-fold in the last 10 years due to coal seam gas mining. He said that claim was backed by US Government findings.
“The only question that they raise is whether the injection of fluid makes the earth move more easily or whether it’s the removal of mass,” Mr Cleeland said.
He said only Wilsons Promontory and the Tynong area were safe from mining as those areas were granite and gas does not exist in granite.
Another public meeting was held at Welshpool last night (Monday).
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