- Drilling at Seaspray halted while community consultation is carried out
- Victorian Coalition Government won’t be rushed on onshore gas
- Information sessions will be held in Gippsland throughout June
The Victorian Coalition Government has put a hold on issuing work plan approvals for onshore gas exploration, including at Seaspray, until the community has had its say and scientific facts are known.
Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the decision would ensure all the facts were in front of government and communities ahead of any decision on whether an onshore gas industry would be developed in Victoria.
“We will not be rushed into making a decision on the potential for development of onshore gas in Gippsland until we have a full understanding of its effects on communities, farmland, the environment and the economy,” Mr Ryan said.
“This decision means planned drilling by Lakes Oil at Seaspray will not proceed until all the facts are considered and the community has had its say.”
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s position on onshore gas was in stark contrast to that of the Labor Party, which when in government issued 73 coal seam, shale and tight gas exploration licences and approved 23 fracking operations without community consultation.
“Under the former Labor Government, the onshore gas industry was given a green light to drill and frack without any understanding of the facts and without giving the community a say,” Mr Ryan.
“No fracking has ever occurred under a Coalition Government. The last time fracking occurred in Victoria was when it was approved by the former Labor Government, supported by local Labor representatives Matt Viney and Johan Scheffer.
“In contrast, the Coalition Government is giving the community a say on this important matter.
“In addition to our consultation process, we have committed to the most extensive investigation into our ground water systems ever undertaken, instigated a moratorium on fracking, put a hold on the issuing of new exploration licences and now a hold on issuing work plan approvals for existing exploration licences.”
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s community consultation would begin with an initial round of Open Days in June, including sessions at Sale, Yarram, Mirboo North, Inverloch, Bairnsdale and Warragul.
“These Open Days form one part of our extensive community consultation process, which also includes facilitated meetings with community groups, environmental groups, farmers, local government representatives and individuals, as well as workshops to discuss specific issues in greater depth.” Mr Ryan said.
“The Open Days will provide the community with all the information and facts so they can make an informed decision on the potential for the development of an onshore gas industry.”
In announcing the Open Days, Minister for Energy and Resources Russell Northe said the Coalition Government genuinely wanted to engage with community on this important issue.
“This is not just a listening exercise, it’s an information exercise. We want to ensure that everyone has an understanding of the facts to help them participate in discussions about a potential onshore natural gas industry in Victoria,” Mr Northe said.
“We intend to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues and the range of views across the community, particularly in the regional and rural communities, before making any decision on this important matter.”
Mr Ryan said more information on the Coalition Government’s community consultation process, including planned and upcoming events, was available online at www.naturalgasinfo.vic.gov.au.
Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731 email@example.com
INFORMATION OPEN DAYS IN GIPPSLAND
Warragul: 2pm – 8pm, Thursday 5 June 2014 at the Exhibition Hall Warragul, Korumburra Road, Warragul (next to the Warragul Show Grounds)
Sale: 2pm – 8pm, Tuesday 10 June 2014 at the Sale Memorial Hall, Macalister Street.
Bairnsdale: 2pm – 8pm, Wednesday 11 June 2014 at the RSL: Lakes Room, 2 Forge Creek Rd, Bairnsdale
Yarram: 2pm – 8pm, Thursday 12 June 2014 at the Anglican Church Hall, 95 Commercial Road, Yarram
Inverloch: 2pm – 8pm, Tuesday 17 June 2014 at the Inverloch Community Hub, 16 A’Beckett Street.
Mirboo North: 2pm – 8pm, Wednesday 18 June 2014 at the Mirboo North Shire Hall