Advocacy

Coal Seam Gas

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Council's Position

In March 2012, Bass Coast Shire Council resolved a position on coal seam gas:

Bass Coast Shire Council is totally opposed to exploration and mining of coal and unconventional gas within the shire. In resolving this position, it is advocating the already widely expressed views of the community.

The continuing preservation, protection and promotion of existing agricultural enterprises, environmental values and tourism opportunities within the Bass Coast Shire, is essential to the economic and social well being of the Shire.

Council is committed to further research the impact of Coal Seam Gas on our region. Council will keep the community informed about advocacy of this position and opportunities that are available for community participation.


 

Latest News

7  March 2017

The Andrews Labor Government’s historic Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 was passed by the Victorian Parliament today. 

22 November 2016

The Victorian Government will introduce legislation today to permanently ban fracking.

30 August 2016

The Andrews Labor Government responds to the Parliamentary Inquiry recommendations and bans fracking in Victoria to protect farmers.

7 June 2016

Over 1800 submissions were received for the parliamentary Inquiry into unconventional gas in Victoria. The Andrews Labor Government has released a statement regarding the current status of the enquiry. The Government will respond to the recommendations when Parliament resumes in August. 

5 April 2016

The Senate Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining was formed to inquire on the adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining. Bass Coast Shire Council made a submission advocating against unconventional gas mining and this has now been published on the Senate Select Committee website.  The final report will be available on or before 30 June 2016.

21 December 2015

A report on the Water dependent asset register for the Gippsland Basin bioregion is now available.  This report was prepared by the Bioregional Assessment Programme and provides a list and description of the water-dependent assets for the Gippsland Basin bioregion.

8 December 2015

The Victorian Parliament's Environment and Planning Committee today released its Final Report (PDF 6.9MB) on the inquiry into onshore unconventional gas.  The report makes 15 recommendations exploring and addressing all aspects of producing onshore unconventional gas in Victoria.

The Committee did not table a majority report.  Tabled were four minority reports, reflecting a range of views.  The existing moratorium on onshore gas drilling, extraction and hydraulic fracturing will remain in place while the Government considers its response, with a gas policy to be announced in the first half of 2016.

7 September 2015

On 1 September 2015 the State Government Environment and Planning Committee tabled an interim report in the Legislative Council regarding the Inquiry into Unconventional Gas in Victoria. Over 1,700 written submissions were received by the Committee and 57 groups and individuals were heard. The Committee will continue with hearings and a final report will be tabled by 1 December 2015.  The Inquiry into onshore unconventional gas in Victoria Interim Report can be downloaded from the Committee's website.


19 August 2015 

The Victorian Auditor-General's Office recently published a report, examining whether Victoria is well placed to effectively respond to the impacts of onshore unconventional gas activities.

1 June 2015

Council has made a submission (PDF 233kb) to the Senate Landholder's Rights to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2015 (PDF 166kb). The submission is consistent with Council's adopted position on coal and unconventional gas mining and exploration.


27 May 2015

The State Government of Victoria has announced via a Media Release, that it will conduct a thorough inquiry into onshore unconventional gas, based on robust scientific evidence and extensive community consultation. The findings of the inquiry will be available in a final report by 1 December 2015.


The Australian Government is undertaking a programme of bioregional assessments in order to better understand the potential impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources and water-related assets. The Bioregional Assessment Programme is one of a number of actions being undertaken by the Australian Government to strengthen the science underpinning decision making on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.

A contextual statement for the Gippsland Basin Region was due in August 2015.
 
The Victorian State Government has released the final report as part of its community consultation program. The final report is now available on the community and stakeholder engagement program for onshore gas and can be found at http://onshoregas.vic.gov.au/community/community-engagement-final-report. Both the interim and final reports will be provided to the Parliamentary Inquiry into unconventional gas.

 


29 January 2015

The moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration is still in place. The Victorian Resource Minister Lily D'Ambrosio, recently announced a new inquiry into the exploration of coal seam gas (CSG) will commence in 2015. The current moratorium has been extended until the findings of this inquiry can be released.

Ms D'Ambrosio stated, "We want to get to the bottom of people's anxieties, we want to make sure that the path forward on this matter is clear, and is guided by the science."

Related article: ABC News - Coal seam gas exploration: Victoria's fracking ban to remain as Parliament probes regulations


At its 15 October 2014 Ordinary Meeting Council resolved:

That Council notes the independent report, Coal Seam Gas Potential within Bass Coast Shire (PDF 2.4MB), and will use the report and information within it, to continue to advocate for its community in opposition to exploration and mining of coal, and unconventional gas within the Shire.

In September 2014, officers and Councillors attended a Coal Seam Gas consultation session at Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) offices. Following discussions with the MAV, the State agreed to hold a consultation session on coal seam gas exploration in Victoria. Representatives from the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation (DSDBI) made a presentation and then independent facilitators engaged by the State sought input and feedback from council representatives present.

In July 2014, Council delegates advocated for their community and its position on unconventional gas at a Canberra delegation visit with Federal Ministers.

Community and stakeholder engagement sessions on unconventional gas (coal seam gas) have recently been conducted across the State, including the Gippsland region, by independent facilitators engaged by the State Government.

These sessions provided the community with an opportunity to access updated information and discuss their concerns. Technical experts were available to answer questions from the community about the underlying geology and the Government's water science program.  Councillors and council officers attended these sessions and advocated for the community.

Community views and concerns were recorded and a report is being compiled for the State Government which is due to be publicly released in July 2015.

The Victorian Government has responded to community concerns regarding unconventional gas exploration and has announced a moratorium on some coal seam gas practises until mid 2015. No new approvals will be granted for:-

  • Hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ (the method used to extract the gas)
  • New exploration licences
  • The use of BTEX chemicals

Council's Actions

Council commenced the journey to advocate for its community to the State and Federal Government in March 2012. This has included Council Reports, writing to various levels of government, regular attendance by Councillors at forums and local events, as well as meeting with the Hon. Michael O'Brien MP in his previous capacity as the Minister for Energy and Resources.

At 19 March 2014 Ordinary Meeting, Bass Coast Shire Council adopted the following position on coal and unconventional gas mining and exploration:

  1. Council is totally opposed to exploration and mining of coal, and unconventional gas within the Shire
  2. Council will advocate this position through a range of methods including through relevant ministers, opposition leaders, peak bodies, participating in consultation processes and making submissions; and
  3. Council will keep the community informed about these activities and opportunities that are available for community participation.

Read the full report and Council's Resolution in the Minutes of Ordinary Meeting - 19 March 2014.

In March 2014, Council made a submission to the Gas Market Taskforce in a Final Report and Recommendations Paper (PDF 625kb).

At its 9 December 2015 Ordinary Meeting, Council resolved

That the Bass Coast Shire develops a strategy to move its investments away from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel developments. This strategy will be incorporated into current investment policy to maximise benefits for Bass Coast Shire ratepayers and the community.

  1. To this end, that the CEO provides an options, analysis and recommendations report to the March 2016 ordinary meeting. The report should specifically address;
    • whether only term investments, or additionally operational transaction accounts, should be part of this strategy,
    • whether screening of financial institutions is done by simply avoiding those having fossil fuel linked investments or whether we can prioritise those supporting clean renewable energy initiatives,
    • options to advocate to financial institutions to improve their performance both financially and environmentally,
  2. A community forum to be held to explain and discuss the options available to Council.
  3. Following consideration of the above, that Council develop a Fossil Fuel Divestment Strategy to be presented for adoption at the July 2016 ordinary meeting. The strategy should specifically include;
    • strategies, actions and timelines to move Council's investments to financial institutions that do not finance fossil fuel projects,
    • a public reporting to Council mechanism, and review process, to minimise indirect financing of fossil fuel projects,
    • a reporting of Council's investments, financial services arrangements and loans.

What is Unconventional Gas?

‘Unconventional’ gas refers to various types of onshore natural gas, including Coal Seam Gas (CSG) shale and tight gas. CSG is extracted from underground coal seams often using hydraulic fracturing, known commonly as fracking or fraccing.

CSG is methane gas found in coal seams; it is odourless and colourless. It is also known as coal bed methane, coal bed gas, coal mine gas and unconventional gas, (not be confused with Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) which is also known as "conventional gas").

How do they extract CSG?

To extract CSG, a steel-encased hole is drilled into the coal seam. The depth of the well varies depending on the location; on average, wells in Queensland are about 600 metres deep.

In the process known as 'fracking' (or fraccing), a mix of water and sand (also some chemicals) is pumped at high pressure down the well and into the coal seam. This process creates a network of cracks in the coal, releasing the gas and water trapped inside the coal seam.

As the water flows out of cracks in the coal, through the sand, the gas trapped inside is also released. A mixture of water and gas flows to the surface, where they are separated and sent for processing. The gas is sent to a compressor station and into natural gas pipelines. The water may contain chemicals from the fracturing process, as well as those naturally present in the coal seam. The 'produced water' is either reinjected into isolated formations, released into streams, used for irrigation, or sent to evaporation ponds. The water typically contains high levels of dissolved solids.

At the end of the production cycle, the gas will be compressed into liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Who is responsible?

The State Government is responsible for assessing the impact that  'fracking' or extracting and mining coal seam gas from the ground will have on the community and surrounding environment, particularly on water tables and aquifers. The State Government announced a moratorium banning 'fracking' and the granting of new exploration licenses for all types of onshore natural gas in 2015.  This ban currently remains in place. 

In late 2012 a taskforce was established to respond to issues regarding unconventional gas in Victoria.  This work has concluded and  a final report  was tabled in Parliament on 8 December 2015.  The report will inform the Government's longer-term position on this matter. 

Find our more information on our Useful Links page.

Information for Landholders

Landholders and community members in Gippsland are concerned and seeking further information about the impact that onshore natural gas extraction will have on their farmland, their coastal environment, their water supplies and their livelihood.

There are various community groups and alliances that offer information and support to landholders in the Gippsland area. Council endeavours to provide the community with information that enables individuals to form a balanced opinion on unconventional gas.

For more information regarding Landholders rights and the obligations of industry, visit our 'Useful Links' page

Agriculture is an important part of the local economy in the Bass Coast Shire, generating around 7 per cent of total economic output and 8 per cent of all jobs. The largest commodity groups by value of production are dairy ($52 million) and meat ($28 million).

Much of the rural land in Bass Coast is considered productive agricultural land with areas west of the Bass Highway considered land of strategic significance due to its contribution to the nationally significant Gippsland dairy industry. The future outlook for agriculture is strong; however, land affordability and urban encroachment are issues for agriculture in some areas of Bass Coast.

Unconventional Gas Links

Information about Unconventional Gas

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/greenhouse-gas-measurement/publications/csg-fugitive-emissions

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/greenhouse-gas-measurement/publication

http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/EF/Areas/Oil-gas-and-fuels/Onshore-gas/Coal-seam-gas-fugitives

naturalgasinfo.vic.gov.au

www.gasfieldscommissionqld.org.au/gasfields/science-and-research/information-and-publications.html

naturalgasinfo.vic.gov.au/controls-and-safeguards/current-status

www.abc.net.au/news/specials/coal-seam-gas-by-the-numbers

The Australia Institute's 'Fracking the future' paper (PDF 1.1MB)

Information for Landholders'

naturalgasinfo.vic.gov.au/controls-and-safeguards/landholders

www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resources/information-for-community-and-landholders

Community Groups

Lock the Gate Alliance: http://www.lockthegate.org.au

Coal Seam Gas Forum Group: info@capepaterson.asn.au
www.capepaterson.asn.au/index.php/csgf-coal-seam-gas-forum

Friends of the Earth www.foe.org.au

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