SOUTH Gippsland Shire residents concerned about the possibility of mining on their doorstep are asking Council to take a stronger stand against coal and coal seam gas exploration and mining. They would also like to see more information on the issue on Council’s website.
The impact of mining was the overriding concern of members of the public who made presentations to Council on the morning of the last council meeting on June 24.
They were speaking days after Mantle Mining was granted a licence to explore for coal across 495 square kilometres of Gippsland, from around Mirboo North (but excluding the township) to the Latrobe Valley.
The mayor, Cr Jeanette Harding, prefaced the public presentation session with a short address on the subject of coal and CSG exploration and mining. “We have been equally concerned about the information coming out,” she said.
She acknowledged the community concern about mining and said Council had made representation to the state government regarding coal seam gas.
She stressed that Mantle Mining was being re-issued with an exploration licence and this was being done not by Council but by the state government.
“I’m trying to clarify the matter because there has been some contradiction,” she said.
She said that Council would be participating in the consultation process regarding mining with a submission through the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).
Council, she said, supports the current moratorium on CSG exploration and mining – as is stated on the shire website – and would continue to advocate to the state government for continued community consultation.
Fergus O’Connor from Berrys Creek addressed Council on behalf of Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North. “What action does Council intend to take regarding Mantle Mining?” he asked.
“We have clean and green agriculture in Gippsland, the best of the best in Australia. We shouldn’t be tampering with the best of the best agricultural land.”
He urged South Gippsland Shire Council to join with neighbouring Bass Coast and declare itself coal and coal seam gas free.
Mr O’Connor was the first of half a dozen speakers, mainly from the Mirboo North area, who urged Council to take a stronger stand against coal and CSG exploration and mining. The speakers were told that answers to their questions would be given to them in writing within ten days.