CSG Free Maffra & Districts campaign
Why is it that local community groups have to rally together to protect Gippsland's most prime agricultural farmland from a blinded State Government seduced by the Mining companies with the promise of royalties without due regards to the consequences.
CSG Free Maffra and District Group has started a letter drive as a followup to the their request in November 2013 to exempt Tinamba and Newry, part of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID), from any further exploration for Exploration Licence EL4968.
EL4968 is for the exploration rights to all minerals, including coal bed methane and mineral sands, over an area of 1,998km2 of the Gippsland Basin.
Ignite Energy Resources Limited ('IER') announced in 2010 that it has finalised the acquisition of Exploration Licence 4416 ('EL 4416') and the equitable rights to Exploration Licence Application 4968 ('ELA 4968').
IER and CBM Resources Pty Ltd have signed the CBMR Agreement in order to complete IER’s acquisition of EL 4416 and the equitable rights to ELA 4968. IER is now the sole owner of EL 4416 and the equitable rights to ELA 4968.
10th February 2014 Macalister Letter Drive – Urgent Action Required
There are a number of important matters we feel you should be aware of:
Gippsland is currently being explored for oil (shale) & tight gas under the Petroleum Legislation and methane gas from Coal Seams under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act, MRSDA. Both acts are significantly inadequate to give the landowner protection, surety and compensation from any impacted contamination in the future.
1. Current legislation under both acts allows the Minister for Energy and Resources to exempt land from mining for any reason deemed appropriate. Last November a number of communities in Gippsland wrote to the previous Minister, Hon. Nick Kotsiras, asking him to use his powers to exempt areas because of the threat posed by potential soil, air and water contamination from onshore gas mining to our agricultural land and communities. CSG-Free Maffra and Districts requested exemptions for the whole of Tinamba and Newry (part of the Macalister Irrigation District), given surveys conducted so far have indicated overwhelmingly that residents wish for the area to remain Coal Seam Gas free. The Minister’s reply failed to address the request (View copies of the separate letters for Tinamba and Newry. The Minister response available here)
Worryingly, the Coalition Government has begun to take steps to make it harder for landowners to gain just exemptions. On 12th November, 2013 the Lower House of Victorian Parliament passed the MRSDA Amendment Bill 2013. Effectively this will require the land being assessed for its mineral wealth prior to exemption. The Bill has now been introduced to the Upper House of Victorian Parliament, awaiting legislative changes.
Apparently, our prime agricultural land is not worthy of protection.
2. The current moratorium on mining activities in Victoria bans the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and approval of new coal seam gas licences until July 2015, awaiting further scientific hydrology studies regarding the suitability of onshore gas mining in the Gippsland region. Community Over Mining link See IESC bio-regional assessments 3. A retired Supreme Court Judge, John Nader QC has summed up the disadvantage farmers have when competing with mining companies wanting to exploit their land for gas: 'What other private commercial entity can enter your land without your permission for the sole purpose of making a profit and, adding insult to injury, eventually leave your property worthless?' - The Land article, Mining Acts Need Severe Surgery.
The ability to determine when and how you sell your land will be taken away from you.
Victorian farmers have been warned by Brian Monk, a Queensland farmer residing in Tara, that his land, his health and the health of his family plus their rural lifestyle has been ruined by the gas industry surrounding his property. His advice is to stop the development of gas mining in our state before it becomes an established industry.
Land values for the whole area diminish, insurance coverage cannot be guaranteed and the ability to obtain finance for improvements will be reduced.
Mining companies such as Lakes Oil are pressing ahead with their works approval to horizontally drill for tight gas in Seaspray under Petroleum legislation, yet this is one of the most unstable and fragile areas of Gippsland. Due to past oil and gas extraction offshore and dewatering of open cut coal mining in Latrobe Valley, this area is suffering from land subsidence, loss of hydraulic aquifer pressure, depleted water bores and salt intrusion.
If gas mining is allowed at Seaspray it could be a watershed, paving the way for global mining companies to transform productive agricultural land into an industrialised landscape. ...
On behalf of CSG-Free Maffra and Districts. firstname.lastname@example.org
Why are we worried?
The Minister's response letter is exactly the same that was sent to Community Over Mining in relation to a totally different matter in regards to bio-regional assessments (seen on IESC page)
It really is quite pathetic that our concerns are not taken seriously and the State Coalition Government have the sheer arrogance in thinking these sorts of replies are acceptable!!
Additionally, the Federal National Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester has stated that
"CSG has the potential to secure Australia's energy self sufficiency. To turn (our) back on CSG would be fool hardy" (Mar 21, 2013 House of Reps -water debate, for amendment to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act)
The Federal National policy position prior to the election was the following:
- No CSG can damage aquifers or water quality
- No developments on prime agricultural land
- No developments close to residential areas
- Landowners deserve a return, not just compensation, from resources on their land
- Real investment must be made back to communities that generate our mineral wealth
Darren states - 'by putting locals first and standing up for my community, I'm striving to make Gippsland an even better place to live.'
- So Darren, how about start lobbying the State Government to exempt the MID from mining activity if you want Gippsland to be a better place to live.
- Separate to this you could also lobby the State Coalition Government about reforming the appropriate Acts to regulate mining as you know both the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Acts are in need of major reform.
- And how can you, as our Gippsland Federal representative, prove that there is no conflict of interest with what you say given the donations from CSG companies prior to the election?
"Donations to the National Party from coal seam gas companies have risen tenfold in four years, but the party is not required to disclose the majority of donations it receives from the gas industry under electoral funding laws.
In the past two years, the Nationals accepted more than $25,000 from Santos, the company that wants to supply a quarter of NSW's gas needs through CSG.
Political funding figures released by the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday show the Nationals also got donations from Queensland-based Arrow Energy, Chevron and the industry's peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, totalling nearly $95,000.
In the previous two years, the oil and gas industry had donated just $4950 in total."
And last November Victorian Greens leader, Greg Barber, introduced a motion that called on a permanent ban on the CSG industry in Victoria. Nationals MP, Damian Drum, responded by giving a glowing appraisal of the CSG industry in Qld after he and a group of Nationals had travelled to Qld to investigate. Tim Bull, State National member for Gippsland East was amongst this group.
Complicating the Nationals support of CSG development in Gippsland, not one State or Federal Politician has come out and questioned the appropriateness of onshore gas development given the existing legacy of land subsidence from past and existing mining on farmland where our bores are already running dry, suffering salt intrusion, land is sinking and land values affected.
Read the concerns on subsidence here and go to new site for Gippsland Land Owners
Are you happy that you have no say in who takes your land and uses it for whatever the government is duped into believing will be for the greater good of the state.
All politicians need to show transparency and start listening to your communities.
If we say no, you need to justify to us why you said yes?