ENVIRONMENTALISTS are claiming a minor victory after an exploration company scrapped plans to look for coal and methane gas in south-west Victoria.
Greens party Warrnambool regional co-ordinator Lisa Owen and Friends of the Earth spokesman Cam Walker described the decision as commonsense after Mecrus Resources announced it would write to the Department of Primary Industries to specifically exclude the controversial components from six exploration licence applications.
Mecrus managing director Barry Richards said the company had simply “ticked all the boxes” in its initial applications. In order to make our intentions clear we have specifically excluded coal and coal-bed methane,” he said.
“We are interested in any resources that we can identify that could prove economically viable.”
Another company recently made a public backdown on plans to explore the Otways for coal and there is growing opposition from farmers and other landholders in Queensland and New South Wales about proposals to mine for coal and methane extraction, fearing pollution of the water table.
Ms Owen said she and several other south-west residents sent submissions on the Mecrus application and also letters to local MPs, senior state cabinet ministers and all members of the Legislative Council.
She said they would now send amended submissions.
“It’s not that we are opposed to mining, but we believe it would be counterproductive to dig up very productive farm land,” Ms Owen said.
“This region has some of the best farming areas in Australia. You can’t eat mineral sands.”
Mr Walker said it was a victory for local groups who mobilised against what was an unsustainable and unpopular proposal.
“The time for investment in new coal is long over. The community does not want coal seam gas operations in this state,” he said.
“While they still intend to look for gold, silver, mineral sand and other resources, and these could all have negative impacts on agricultural land in the west of the state, this is a great outcome.
“We congratulate the company for listening to the community concern around further coal expansion and the threat of coal seam gas”.