AN ENVIRONMENTAL group says Colac Otway Shire Council’s push to ban coal-seam gas mining has “special significance”.
Colac Otway Shire Council voted unanimously to call on the State Government to put a moratorium on coal-seam gas exploration until there was an investigation into the industry’s effects on the environment, farming, communities and the economy.
Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker congratulated the council on its call for a moratorium.
“Cr Stuart Hart and Colac Otway Shire are to be congratulated for acting on widespread local concern about CSG,” Mr Walker said.
“A number of other councils are expected to debate the issue shortly; ignoring the issue won’t make the problem go away.”
Cr Hart said the shire was a highly productive area with high rainfall and it was a “very important food bowl”.
“When we play with the environment, if we’re not careful, we can upset and ruin and vandalise many areas of our environment,” he said.
Cr Geoff Higgins said that without a moratorium, “by the time we wake up that they’re doing damage it’s too late; our farming community will be destroyed”.
Cr Brian Crook said the community’s plan for the future did not involve CSG, which could jeopardise other land use including tourism and farming.
“I don’t think we should be gambling with our Otways; we shouldn’t be gambling with our aquifers,” Cr Crook said.
Cr Lyn Russell said she did not want to see the Otways “destroyed like some of the farming land in New South Wales and Queensland”.
Cr Frank Buchanan said he also thought CSG companies had an “opportunistic view”.
Councillor Chris Smith supported the moratorium but opposed the initial motion, which included “council notes the many legitimate concerns regarding CSG”.
But Cr Smith gained support to amend the motion to “council notes many strong concerns regarding CSG”.
Cr Hart thanked the council for its unanimous support.