COMMUNITY meetings were held across the south-west this week to build opposition to the controversial mining technique of “fracking.”
Meetings were held this week in Woolsthorpe and Byaduk and further meetings, organised with the help of the Friends of the Earth group, will be held at Portland on May 14, at Warrnambool on May 15, at Panmure Hall on May 20 and at Brucknell on May 29.
Moyne Shire Council has also joined the opposition, voting at its April meeting to seek the support of the Great South Coast (GSC) Group of councils to oppose the mining of coal seam, tight and shale oil gases in the south-west.
The gases are extracted using fracking, which injects water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into a bore to create small fractures in underground rock where the gases are held.
The council also decided at its recent meeting to call for the GSC to lobby all state political parties, in the lead up to this year’s state election, to commit to a ban on the exploration and extraction of the three gas types.
Councillors backed a motion by Cr Ralph Leutton, who said fracking had a big impact on underground water reserves.
Damaging the region’s aquifers could harm the south-west food production industries, he said.
Cr Jim Doukas supported Cr Leutton’s motion, saying he had seen information about the adverse impacts of fracking.
“This could destroy agriculture,” Cr Doukas said. “We have got to go in, boots and all.”
A community meeting against fracking held at Woolsthorpe on April 23 attracted about 40 people.
Another meeting was held last night at the multi-purpose hall at Woolsthorpe Primary School to organise further action against the technique.
The Woolsthorpe meetings followed another anti-fracking gathering at Crossley in March that was attended by more than 100 people.
One of the organisers of the Woolsthorpe meetings, local farmer Joan Speirs, said at least three exploration companies wanted to mine for the three gas types in the south-west using fracking.
Mrs Speirs said the community meetings planned to harness “people power” to persuade the Victorian government to ban fracking. She said she had collected about 150 signatures on a petition to stop fracking.
The state government has placed a moratorium on the technique in Victoria until July next year.
However, the Reith report headed by former Howard government minister Peter Reith last year recommended the state government lift the moratorium.