MOYNE Shire is leading a charge of Victorian councils against unconventional gas.
Three councils, including Moyne Shire, put forward an anti-fracking motion that was passed at a gathering of council bosses in Melbourne at the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) last week.
The group says it will “strongly advocate” that the government not proceed with unconventional gas unless the government can prove it will not be detrimental to communities. It also wants tough regulations to “ensure protection of the natural environment, local communities, rural industries and private property rights”.
Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell said the move was a “great result”.
Both coal-seam gas (CSG), shale and tight gas require hydraulic fracturing — a method of fracturing rocks using high-pressure water and chemicals to free trapped gas beneath.
Coal-seam extraction has attracted greater controversy over its environmental credentials in Queensland and the United States while shale and tight gas is regarded as less risky by groups such as the CSIRO.
There are no CSG sites in the south-west but several companies have identified spots in the south-west where unconventional shale gas and conventional gas could occur. All onshore gas is still banned under a moratorium in place until July next year.
Environmentalists insist all fracture wells could jeopardise underground water supplies.
It’s not yet known the size or potential of the onshore gas reserves in the south-west.
“That possibility is far outweighed by the risks it could pose to our aquifers,” said Cr Purcell, who is also leading the campaign against fracking in his political quest for a Victorian upper house seat.
He also doubted claims that further drilling in the state would ease rising gas bills.
“Gas is sold domestically at international prices. It’s not going to mean cheaper gas,” Cr Purcell said.
“We’re not opposed to natural onshore gas. It’s unconventional gas when they take it out of the coal seam or the shale.”