An expert in environmental law says the Victorian Government's extension of a ban on fracking is purely a political move and will do little to stop the expansion of coal seam gas in that state into the future.
The Victorian Government yesterday released a review conducted by former Howard minister Peter Reith into the development of a CSG industry.
The Gas Market Taskforce recommended the state's ban on fracking be lifted, subject to certain conditions, but Premier Denis Napthine announced there would be public consultation on the review's findings. In the meantime the government would extend its moratorium on fracking until July 2015.
Associate Professor Samantha Hepburn says only a small number of CSG projects rely on fracking with the majority using water pumps to extract the gas. She believes the ban, which will be in place until after the state election next year, is a reflection of strong community opinion.
"Obviously there is a great deal of of concern in the community regarding the impact of fracking," she said. "We know that fracking is primarily used for shale... and only a small percentage of coal seam gas drills so if coal seam gas does progress, the moratorium won't necessarily impact on that type of gas industry."
The Reith review, which calls for the establishment of a Gas Commissioner to liaise with stakeholders, also recommends land holders who have CSG projects on their land be paid up to $20,000 for disruption on their properties, double what is available under the existing minerals legislation. However there is no right of veto, as some farmers' groups have called for, and landholders would not be able to prevent projects going ahead.
Individual landholders would not be the only ones compensated, however, with a recommendation for the establishment of the royalties for the regions program, similar to what has been in place in Queensland since 2012. This program could provide infrastructure and services for communities that are impacted by CSG and would be directed by local councils.
Samantha Hepburn, Associate Professor in the School of Law, Deakin University
producer: Cathy Pryor