WHILE green groups have welcomed Latrobe City Council’s independent report into Coal Seam Gas exploration in the region, further questions have been raised.
After thanking council for taking residents’ CSG concerns “seriously”, Sustainable Boolarra representatives told the council chamber on Monday night the report raised more questions surrounding the issues associated with potential CSG extraction in Latrobe Valley.
Fears of CSG exploration’s social, environmental and economic implications in the Boolarra and Callignee district were aired in two petitions which led to council sanctioning a briefing paper on CSG in the Latrobe Valley.
Sustainable Boolarra speaker Chelsea Stewart said there were concerns the report did not offer sufficient information surrounding the potential fire hazards resulting from CSG extraction, water use, ecological impact and property value depreciation which need further information and investigation.
“We ask (council) to seriously consider the potential issues raised in the report,” Ms Stewart said.
Sustainable Boolarra member Simon McInnes said there was enough evidence and concerns raised in the report for council to develop a policy position which does not endorse CSG activity in the region.
Latrobe City chief executive Paul Buckley said the report was an “issues paper”, which aimed to present council with potential issues related to CSG exploration and extraction and provide background before developing a policy position in the future.
The report explored Latrobe Valley coal reserves, federal and state government policy and regulations, CSG technologies, feasibility of CSG extraction in Latrobe Valley as well as the potential issues and benefits of CSG extraction.
However Latrobe City Mayor Sandy Kam said council would wait for the release of the Federal Government’s national framework as well as a State Government reaction to framework before forming its policy position.
“The (Latrobe Valley briefing paper) tells us the future in Victoria in regard to CSG is totally uncertain,” Cr Kam said.
“It provides us with the pros and the cons so far but there is still more information we require.”
Speakers during Monday night’s council meeting reiterated, as stated in the report, council’s ability to put pressure on state and federal government to influence policy position. The report also stated there were no current or planned CSG facilities in Victoria, although a number of companies had obtained CSG exploration licences.
“As there is currently no current or approved coal seam gas production in Victoria and the viability of CSG extraction in Victoria is uncertain, CSG has not been a concern for Victorian communities, and hence their local governments,” the report stated.
The report can be viewed at www.latrobe.vic.gov.au