Friday 16/5/14 Bill Meldrum, Portland Observer
A MOVE to stop fracking is gaining momentum with more than 400 people turning up to two anti-fracking meetings in the region this week.
The anti-fracking campaign aims to prevent the unconventional method of gas extraction.
More than 350 people jammed into the Portland Arts Centre on Wednesday night, and 70 at the Drumborg Hall on Tuesday night to hear the anti-fracking presentations.
It comes on top of more than 120 people attending an anti-fracking meeting at Digby on April 1. Portland Lock the Gate co-ordinator Paul Wizard told the crowd at the Portland Arts Centre the next steps in the campaign included door-to-door surveys of residents and having the Glenelg Shire Council declare the municipality a no fracking (unconventional gas mining) shire.
He said the eventual aim was to have State Energy and Resources Minister Russell Northe declare a permanent ban on fracking throughout Victoria.
The Portland meeting was shown a short film on the impacts of fracking and the unconventional gas industry, especially coal seam gas, on communities in Queensland and New South Wales.
It referred to detrimental impacts on groundwater supplies, air quality, farms and increased noise and traffic levels.
Hamilton environmental engineer Heinz de Chelard said the risk factors associated with fracking and unconventional gas to clean water, food production and air quality in south-west Victoria ranged from high to extreme.
He urged people that they needed to vote for parties in the November State Election that would ban fracking.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Tom Warne-Smith spoke about the rights members of the public had in terms of mining.
He spoke about compensation agreements once mining companies were allowed access to private property, that the companies did not fall under local government planning schemes, but that individuals could object to the relevant minister.
Lock the Gate state co-ordinator Chloe Aldenhoven urged the communities to unite and support each other.
She said Digby residents had already started the process of surveying the local area to ensure a vast majority of residents had Lock the Gate signs to give the mining and exploration companies a clear message that they were not welcome.
“Portland may be a bit harder to survey, but the outskirts may be easier … there have been examples of where the companies have looked at western Sydney and the residents banded together to stop them,” she said.
Mr.Wizard told the crowd another meeting would be held at the Portland Arts Centre, at 7:30pm on Wednesday, to discuss survey areas and further tactics.
Drumborg resident Garry Everett said another meeting would be held for Drumborg, Lyons and Hotspur district residents at the Drumborg Hall, on Tuesday at 7.30pm, also to discuss survey areas.
Both meetings are open to the public.
• Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals down a deep well to release hydrocarbon trapped in geological formations. It has come to prominence in recent years, in particular in Queensland and New South Wales, with a special focus on the coal seam gas industry.
The State Government has a moratorium on fracking until July 2015, however, there are fears the moratorium may be lifted early or not extended.