Inverloch locks the gates

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Inverloch locks the gates

INVERLOCH is saying no to coal seam gas mining.

Victoria is experiencing a rush of exploration for unconventional gas and experimental coal projects.

Protestors claim the potential compromise of land and water is too great a risk and Inverloch landowners are determined to keep mining companies off their properties.

Environmental group Coal Seam Gas Free Bass Coast said Inverloch’s pride stems from its tourism industry. They say Queensland tourism industries have fallen since mining began in 2010 and the Inverloch community is unwilling to suffer the same consequences.

Gippsland also produces 23 per cent of Australia’s milk and some of the best beef in the country. Contamination from coal seam gas mining threatens contaminated beef and dairy products, fertility issues and death within exposed herds, Coal Seam Gas Free Bass Coast stated.

Environmental lawyer Ariane Wilkinson says it is legal for landowners to “lock their gates” and deny mining companies land access, until such time a compensation agreement is in place.

“Locals do have power,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“Landowners declaring their gates are locked make investors hesitant.”

Mining companies can gain land access when landowners agree to compensation or attend VCAT after negotiation. If the mining company takes the landowner to VCAT, the mining company must pay the landowners’ costs.

Ms Wilkinson advised locals to obtain advice from a lawyer before negotiating or signing agreements with mining companies. She also noted locals should always ask the mining company if they can pay for the costs of that legal advice.

A public information evening was held at the Inverloch Community Hub on Thursday night. Along with Ms Wilkinson, Kerrin Schelfhout was a guest speaker on behalf of Seaspray, a small coastal town already under threat of mining.

Ms Schelfhout says she has heard farmers say the gas is toxic and destroying the land, and activists agree not enough research has been conducted to ensure the chemicals are not harmful.

“We were unclear of the implications until it was too late,” Ms Schelfhout said.

“Mining companies are able to tell us it’s safe but are unable to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.”

Seaspray has undergone the exploration stage of the mining project, with fracking still to come. A mining well site has been put in just 500 metres from the town’s water supply.

Since then, the town has suffered birth defects and illnesses of livestock and contaminated soil, Ms Schelfhout claimed.

Locking the gate is a symbolic measure for towns to refuse mining companies. Once a town is declared to be coal seam gas free, mining companies have not invaded.

Poowong was the first community in Victoria to declare itself a coal seam gas free region after Lock the Gate surveyed 600 landowners, with a result of 95 per cent against mining.

Inverloch landowners have decided to try to lock their gates as a community to maintain the land.

Kongwak will celebrate a coal seam gas free declaration day on May 25.

 

 

No go zone: Coal Seam Gas Free Bass Coast members and guest speakers Mary Ellen Cantieni, Jessica Harrison, environmental lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, Peter Wonfor, Seaspray representative Kerrin Schelfhout and John Abbott are against coal seam gas mining in the region.

No go zone: Coal Seam Gas Free Bass Coast members and guest speakers Mary Ellen Cantieni, Jessica Harrison, environmental lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, Peter Wonfor, Seaspray representative Kerrin Schelfhout and John Abbott are against coal seam gas mining in the region.

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Posted by on Apr 1 2014. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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