A MINING exploration company has ruled out trying to obtain another licence to search for coal seam gas in North East Victoria, saying it believes any reserves are minimal.
It comes as the Victorian government prepares to host a series of public consultations on onshore gas prospects, including a forum in Wangaratta on July 29.
Greenpower Natural Gas caused controversy in Wangaratta four years ago when it sought a mining exploration licence for Lower Ovens, Ovens Valley and Boorhaman.
That application was ultimately rejected amid a huge pushback from the community.
Greenpower has since decided against pursuing any further exploration licences in the region, its chairman Alan Flavelle told The Border Mail.
“We have no interest in exploring for gas in North East Victoria,” he said.
“Based on a study of the existing information, we think that the potential for gas reserves is low.”
While coal seam gas mining has been a topical issue in northern NSW and Queensland, there is a moratorium on fracking — a method of coal seam gas extraction which opponents say has dire environmental effects — in Victoria.
That runs until next year.
The government is undertaking statewide consultation on the issue and Murray Valley MP Tim McCurdy is keen for residents in his electorate to take part.
“Onshore gas is one of those issues where there’s a real fear out there ... and a lot of those fears are misguided,” he said.
“It’s a resource that can bring a big return to our smaller communities.”
Mr McCurdy said some of the benefits seen in the north were upgraded roads, bridges and airports, and the revitalisation of smaller regions that “wouldn’t have been done without coal seam gas exploration”.
However, he said there was concern about its environmental impacts, including on water reserves.
“That’s certainly something we don’t want to happen at all,” he said.
“If there is harm to the environment, I’m right behind that argument, I don’t want to see the environment harmed at all.
“But I do object to groups scaremongering without all the facts.
“I’m all for getting the facts out there and talking about it.
“It’s a community resource so it needs to be a community decision.”
A coal seam gas reserve sits in the north-west corner of the Indigo Shire, extending across to Wangaratta — right in the heart of Mr McCurdy and Benambra MP Bill Tilley’s electorates — and over the border into Corowa.
Following Greenpower’s failed 2010 exploration bid, energy company Energetica abandoned its plans to mine the Corowa section in 2012 due to the expense.
The Wangaratta forum will be held at the Wangaratta Uniting Church Hall, 10 Rowan Street, from 2pm to 8pm.