MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                                

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday 6th October 2014

Locals to have questions answered about the impacts of a local coal seam gas industry

A free community information night looking at the threat of the coal seam gas industry in Gippsland will be held on Wednesday the 15th October in Yarram.

This meeting has been called in response to growing community concern within the Wellington Shire and other regions of Gippsland. The area is covered by approved exploration licences for coal seam gas and tight gas. Extraction of both these unconventional types of gas often requires hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and this process has been well documented as frequently leading to ground water contamination. The industry has been vigorously rejected by rural communities across the state. These licences cover over 350,000 hectares in Gippsland alone.

Concern about coal seam gas and tight gas licences overlaying the Wellington township of Seaspray, last year lead a group of locals to survey their area asking one question ‘Do you want to declare Seaspray & surrounds tight gas and coal seam gas free?’ Over 98% of respondents said yes and Seaspray became one of over 30 communities in Victoria to declare itself gasfield free.

The Yarram community has already felt the impact of the offshore oil and gas industry, with many farmers in the area receiving payments under the Latrobe Aquifer Financial Assistance Package since it was released in 2009. This assistance – provided jointly by the Federal and Victorian governments - recognised the role of the offshore industry in lowering the aquifer.

“An onshore unconventional gas industry could potentially have an even greater impact on the water table. Subsidence is already a huge concern here and I do not think that an industry that possibly makes this worse would be welcome here" said Yarram local Libby Balderstone

"We want to protect our farming industry, our community's health, and our water.  We should not be forced to accept an industry that has many negative impacts including water & land contamination, industrialisation of our beautiful landscape, and possibly even an increased risk of earthquakes" she said

“The government and the mining companies cannot guarantee the safety of our underground water supplies, our land or our environment. These are not things we are willing to gamble with. Our community has the right to be well informed about the risk this industry poses” said Ms Balderstone.

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