GLENELG Shire has taken the strongest stance of any south-west council against fracking and coal seam gas.
Councillors unanimously backed a motion on Tuesday night to declare the shire an “unconventional gasfield-free zone”.
The vote was passed with applause from a packed public gallery.
The decision is the most significant anti-fracking motion yet from a south-west council.
“It certainly signals the intention of council and the community to resist any exploration relating to gas fields,” Glenelg council chief executive Sharon Kelsey said
“It’s certainly been discussed in other councils ... but it is a position other councils in the Great South Coast haven’t reached yet.”
She said several attempts to bring companies to the shire and brief council had been unsuccessful.
“We’re finding it quite hard to get companies to come along and address council,” Ms Kelsey said. There are still question marks over whether there are in fact companies that hope to find unconventional gas in the south-west.
Lake Oils, which has permits near Warrnambool and Port Campbell, says it wants to drill for standard gas.
Critics such as Greens Victorian upper house candidate Lloyd Davies are suspicious the company may still be searching for unconventional reserves.
Beach Energy also has exploration permits near Casterton.
Mayor John Northcott said little was known about the region’s onshore gas reserves.
“The latest information communicated is that the gasfields may only last 10 years, whereas earlier it was communicated that they would last 30 years,” Cr Northcott said.
“Drilling for unconventional gas poses a risk to water tables across the Otway basin where coastal towns and cities depend on underground water and this also means clean healthy food would come under threat from potentially contaminated water supplies.”