Gas opponents vow to keep fighting
VICTORIA’S temporary moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling is over, but Friends of the Earth have vowed to keep opposing the practice in the state’s south-west.
Although the State Government lifted the ban on 1 July, unconventional gas extraction, also known as fracking, was permanently banned across the state in September 2016.
Onshore gas activity in south-west Victoria will be in the Otway Basin, which is considered to have higher potential for new discoveries of gas than the Gippsland Basin and has several areas with potential for gas fields stretching from the South Australian border along the coast towards Apollo Bay.
Friends of the Earth has been active in the campaign against any kind of gas development in the Geelong region over the past decade and was part of the significant local opposition to fracking, with several towns declaring themselves gasfield-free and the City of Greater Geelong and the Surf Coast Shire officially stating they wanted no part of the industry.
“The decision by the Victorian government to reopen the state to gas companies is bad news for regional communities, for our farmers and for the climate,” Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker said.
“It is at odds with climate science, and the Government’s own commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050.
“It will also do little to help consumers: the Government’s own report found that the full development of known gas resources would not reduce wholesale gas prices.”
Friends of the Earth are also citing recent statements from the International Energy Agency that the exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year and no new coal-fired power stations can be built if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating and meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
“My heart will break a little today, the day our long and hard fought for onshore gas moratorium is lifted,” Jane, a representative of Gasfield Free Glenelg Portland, said.
“I thank the Andrews Government for enshrining the ban on fracking and onshore unconventional gas in the Victorian constitution. I hope it stays forever.
“But I fear that it won’t be enough to keep our Victorian countryside and agricultural sector clean, green and safe.
“I hope that all farmers know by now the dangers and consequences of opening their farmlands to the gas cartels. We only need to look at Queensland to see the havoc that is unleashed. The gas companies’ main aim is money, at whatever the cost, and will push aside whomever stands in their way.”
The State Government has said the restart of onshore conventional gas followed three years of detailed scientific investigations by the Victorian Gas Program, which found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise the environment or Victoria’s agricultural sector.