Fracking threatens farms, says protest group

A PUBLIC meeting has been organised in Crossley to strengthen opposition against fracking mining on farming properties.

Environmental campaigner Gillian Blair of Panmure has invited Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine and local council leaders to attend the March 12 forum in St Brigid’s hall.

As secretary of the Sustainable Agriculture and Communities Alliance, Ms Blair said she felt a responsibility to alert the community to potential risks.

“Despite Dr Napthine having promised there will be no fracking in Victoria, the Western District right up to the South Australian border has been allocated for exploration by companies seeking coal seam gas, tight gas and shale oil,” she told The Standard.

“Unless the public and farmers stage a massive public protest we are likely to see the development of thousands of wells across productive farm land.

“Already in New South Wales and Queensland people are suffering health effects from pollution of their air and water by the release of toxic chemicals and gases from these industries.

“We must make the Napthine government stick to its promise and not allow fracking and mining.”

The Premier’s office told The Standard on Friday there were no moves to lift the moratorium.

Ms Blair has organised guest speakers to address the meeting as well as the screening of a documentary film on the issue. “Gas, coal and oil belong back in the past century,” she said.

“We can run this country on renewable energy and do not need either fossil fuels or dangerous nuclear power to do this.”

Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals down a deep well to release hydrocarbon trapped in geological formations.

Last year Beach Energy and joint-venture partner Somerton Energy gained approval to explore a permit area in the Dergholm district north of Casterton and revealed they were keen to do some fracking. 

Beach is also involved with exploring gas reserves in a district including Curdievale, Garvoc, Panmure, Brucknell and Purnim.

Beach told The Standard last year it had no plans to fracture-stimulate any well while the bans were in place, but managing director Reg Nelson told the Financial Review western Victoria had promising deep-gas potential.

“These are areas where potentially good ground is really locked away and I think for no good reason,” he said.

Mr Nelson said tight-gas resource was very different in nature to the coal seam gas being exploited in Queensland and NSW.

In an earlier address to the Melbourne Mining Club, Mr Nelson attacked what he said was ill-informed and dishonest criticism from opponents to gas exploitation.

He said there needed to be a “return to science and facts, not consensus by Twitter”.

The onshore part of Otway basin stretches from the Mornington Peninsula to the South Australian border.

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