Local communities express their opposition to fracking in south-west

MORE than 1100 people across western Victoria turned out for state government-held community consultation on fracking, with an overwhelming majority opposed to the industry.

Casterton’s consultation attracted 155 people and about 100 people attended a session in Terang, despite not being in exploration licence areas.

An approximate breakdown of public sentiment was 75 per cent opposed, 20 per cent undecided and 5 per cent not opposed, according to one of the independent facilitators, Mick Maguire.

Michael Greenham, of No Gasfields Lower Glenelg, presented the facilitators with a copy of its community survey, which showed overwhelming opposition to the industry. Nine communities have declared themselves coal and gasfield free, with another 20 communities in the process of making the same declaration. 

Moyne Shire has helped lead momentum for community support for a ban on fracking, which is a controversial mining technique used to extract gases by injecting water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure. 

Concerns with the process include its impact on underground water reserves, which Moyne councillor Ralph Leutton warned could harm the south-west food production industries.

Sophie Ellis, of Gasfield Free West, called for the government to understand the risks to the community.

“Given the obvious community opposition to fracking, the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) resolution to oppose unconventional gas mining in Victoria and the experience of regions with existing gasfields, the government must know we do not want this industry,” she said. 

The state government has placed a moratorium on the technique in Victoria until July next year. 

The open days have finished for western Victoria, but are due to continue in other parts of the state.

The next phase of the community consultation will include workshops, with attendees selected at random from interest groups in the region.

The full report of the findings will be presented to government by March 31, 2015.

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