More in SE say no to gasfields

24 Jul, 2015 02:00 AM
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Ben Hack, Stewarts Range, Bob Williams, Lochaber and Roger Dickinson, Keppoch, hand Naracoorte Lucindale councillor Toby Robinson, Lucindale (second from left) the 40 gasfield-free declaration scrolls from the Lochaber gathering on the weekend.
Ben Hack, Stewarts Range, Bob Williams, Lochaber and Roger Dickinson, Keppoch, hand Naracoorte Lucindale councillor Toby Robinson, Lucindale (second from left) the 40 gasfield-free declaration scrolls from the Lochaber gathering on the weekend.

ANTI-GAS sentiment continues to rise in the South East, with a fourth gasfield-free declaration ceremony held at Lochaber.

A survey of residents on 40 roads in the rural communities of Lochaber, Stewarts Range and Keppoch elicited 90 per cent support to the question 'do you want to remain gasfield free?'.

Limestone Coast Protection Alliance spokesperson Sue Westgarth said more than 500 roads had been surveyed in the region so far and four ceremonies held - the three others were in the Robe, Grant and Wattle Range council regions.

She was inspired to learn most wanted their districts free of gasfields and invasive mining.

"Community action groups are collaborating across the SA-Vic border where the big social movement is growing because governments are not listening to the people on this issue," Ms Westgarth said.

"This process is an important first step as ordinary people learn how they can work together to protect their water, air, communities and existing industries from industrial gasfields and invasive mining."

Concerns include possible contamination of the region's underground aquifers, impact on land values and threat to one of the state's prime agriculture areas.

Chairperson of the small Lochaber gathering and local farmer Ken Grundy said residents were keen to show gas companies did not have the "social licence" to operate in the area.

"In the SE there are no rivers or creeks or reservoirs. We are totally dependent on underground water and we can't afford to jeopardise its quality," he said.

"A lot of it is not all that sound now with salinity, so we have to protect it 110pc."

Many also opposed pipeline infrastructure and gas towers interfering with their day to day farming operations.

Mr Grundy said Australia's gas production needs could be undertaken in less-productive agricultural areas or countries where food production was not a major focus.

He was sceptical about the outcome of the state government's Unconventional Gas Parlia­mentary Inquiry, and the federal government's decision to give the green light for a coal mine on the agriculturally rich Liverpool Plains in NSW.

"The reason they give, and it will be the same for the gas, is that we have to export to help the economy but at what point do we say the environment and the livelihood of the people is more important?" Mr Grundy said.

"This gas will be going overseas at prices far less than they will charge us - there is no logic in any of it."

The 40 declaration scrolls were handed to Naracoorte Lucindale councillor Toby Robinson who was not at the ceremony in a council capacity but said he would deliver them to the next council meeting.

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    Catherine Miller

    Catherine Miller

    is Stock Journal's livestock editor and South East correspondent

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