Fierce community opposition to the gas industry on South Australia’s Limestone Coast has been ignored with the creation of three new petroleum exploration licences, according to Limestone Coast Protection Alliance.
Despite a moratorium on fracking in the area, the government is encouraging the gas industry to begin prospecting in the area and sink “conventional wells” through the creation of the tenements.
Limestone Coast Protection Alliance co-chair Angus Ralton said the government was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of locals.
“This is totally disrespectful - the community does not want this invasive, predatory and destructive industry to establish itself in our region,” he said.
“You can bet that as soon as the industry gains a foothold, the government will back down on its fracking moratorium, and the beauty of the Limestone Coast and its agricultural values will be lost.
"This shows that our government is in the pocket of the gas companies. There's shale in the Otway Basin. That's what it's always been about.
"Once they start drilling, you can guarantee that the next step will be fracking that shale.
“We condemn this decision by the Marshall Government in the strongest terms possible.”
Limestone Coast Protection Alliance secretary Cate Cooper said any short term gain when gas companies established themselves in a region was quickly outweighed by losses to agriculture, the environment, and community culture.
“Gas companies are insidious in the way they pit farmer against farmer, with ‘make good’ negotiations conducted in secrecy and only with landholders whose land will be directly impacted," she said.
“The problem is gas drilling can impact entire aquifers, meaning landholders who do not have any wells on their properties may still be disadvantaged, though not compensated.
“We are all interlinked here, and any damage to one business is damage to all businesses.
“There is also still no way to safely dispose of the toxic waste created during the gas extraction process.
“This is an iconic tourism and wine growing region - we do not need this boom and bust industry wrecking those sustainable parts of our economy.”