Senator joins gas mining fight

Yeodene famer Brian Bowtell will attend a meeting at Forrest on September 16 to support the community’s fight against a 500-square-kilometre search for coal-bed methane.

A GREENS senator has thrown his support behind a battle against coal-bed gas exploration in Colac and district.

Senator Richard Di Natale said residents and farmers had only found out about a licence to explore 500 square kilometres of the region for coal-bed methane after a 21-day public consultation period finished.

“It’s pretty clear that the legislation that is in place to inform land holders that something is in the pipeline is pretty inadequate,” Senator Di Natale said.

The Colac Herald first revealed plans for the gas hunt in May 2010, before public consultation ended.

But campaigners want governments to publicise mining licences more.

The Department of Primary Industries granted the five-year licence to ECI International and CFT CBM Holdings in December last year.

The search will cover Colac, Barongarook, Forrest and Gellibrand.

Senator Di Natale, who lives at Deans Marsh, said he would “do his best” to attend a public meeting on September 16 to oppose the search for gas.

Senator Di Natale said the Greens supported the right of farmers to protect prime agricultural land.

“We introduced a bill to parliament this week that would give landholders the right of veto from coal-seam gas exploration on agricultural land and unfortunately it looks like it hasn’t got the support of the major parties,” he said.

The battle against the gas search comes after mining companies Mantle Mining and Mecrus Resources last month abandoned plans to explore the region for coal.

Colac Otway Sustainability Group president Virginia Wallace said farmers were unaware of the exploration licence that affected their properties.

“We’re not pushing any position other than we want people to be aware,” she said.

“I think it would be good if there were more requirements to publish a larger sort of ad about this sort of thing; if they are granted a mining licence it’s extremely significant to the district, which is primarily agricultural farming land.”

Yeodene beef farmer Brian Bowtell said he was concerned about the effect coal-bed methane exploration could have on farming.

He said he planned to attend the September 16 meeting and had been informing his friends and neighbours about the licence.

“I’m a bit disturbed about the way it interferes with the farming activities with the way the wells are drilled.”

The Colac Herald contacted ECI International but did not hear back before the paper went to print.

One Response to “Senator joins gas mining fight”

  1. Brian Monk

    I would encourage the people of the district to view Gaslands. I am an ex-Victorian now living in the hell of Gaslands Queensland on the Surat Basin. This industry uses stealth to infiltrate your community, make very few rich and the rest adversly effected. I know your area very well coming from Maryborough Vic. The effect on ground water, the poisonous BTEX which is both naturally occuring as well as being used in the drilling process, known carcinogenic. It also slices up your land, every well needs to be connected to other wells, compressor stations, pipelines accross the land, holding ponds for the water. You live in a beautiful area, this industry turns you into an industrial waste dump. Lock the Gate, do not allow this industry into your area, you will live to regret it. Your children and grandchildren will look you in the eyes and say WHY?????????? Fight a good fight against this and do not trust legislation to help you, it changes to suit the needs of the industry. Read the all but daily reports of spills, contamination, shoddy practices reported in Qld, you have the heads up, blockade this before it is too late.