by Ursula Alquier
Gippsland Local, Quit Coal Campaigner & Coordinator Lock the Gate Victoria
For over eighteen months now Quit Coal has been supporting communities across Gippsland – helping them build resilient community groups and a regional alliance ready to Lock the Gate against the coal and unconventional gas industries.
RIGHT NOW the Victorian Government is preparing to lift the current moratorium on fracking. In the next few months, the coal and unconventional gas industries intend to turn Gippsland into a coal and gas field.
Gippsland is an agricultural hub for Victoria, producing $1.3 billion worth of food each year and houses a huge number of thriving regional communities. It is also an area rich in natural beauty and biodiversity and with pristine beaches, lakes and mountains, it is a popular tourist destination.
Yet despite all this, the Victorian Government has granted mining exploration licences to the coal and unconventional gas industries that cover over 80% of the region.
Local farmers, landowners, and residents have told us they are extremely concerned about their health and the future of their communities.
An explosion of coal and gas mining in Gippsland, means mass industrialisation, huge risks to human and animal health, the chance of surface waterways becoming polluted, groundwater being contaminated and a lowering of the water table.
But most of all it poses a great threat to their livelihoods – their farms, their businesses and their communities.
It’s important that we show these destructive industries that they have no social licence to operate in Gippsland – that while the government might grant them a licence to dig up Gippsland, local communities are strongly opposed to what they are doing.
Since Quit Coal began organising in Gippsland over eighteen months ago, we’ve seen the town of Poowong declare itself Victoria’s first ‘coal seam gas free community’.
We’ve seen the Mirboo North community collect almost 10,000 signatures calling for a moratorium on all coal and unconventional gas mining until it can be scientifically proven safe.
We’ve seen the Seaspray community organise into a force to be reckoned with since Gina Rinehart’s, Lakes Oil began testing their gas wells in May.
And we’ve seen a huge number of other Gippsland communities including Inverloch, Leongatha, Kongwak, Wattle Bank, Yarragon South, Allambee, Newry, Maffra, Sale, Longford, The Honeysuckles, Harmers Haven, Boolarra, Koo Wee Rup, Bayles, Drouin, Darnum, Toongabbie, Foster and Bena begin organising to join the fight against coal and gas.
We also know how effective the Lock the Gate community movement can be, with both Dart Energy and Metgasco, two huge mining companies, suspending their operations in the Hunter Valley and the Northern Rivers region of NSW after a prolonged, organised and intense community backlash and the resulting changes to government regulation.
With the moratorium about to lift, it is more important now than ever, that together with these communities, we protect Victoria from the devastating effects of coal and unconventional gas mining.
As Quit Coal supporters, we already know that you care about protecting Victoria from coal and unconventional gas mining. Without your support we wouldn’t be able to keep doing what we’re doing.
This weekend is your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the financial year.
DONATE to Quit Coal and help us support Gippsland communities protecting their health, their farms, and their livelihoods from the devastating effects of coal and unconventional gas mining.