Ben Courtice

Mining company ECI International has “submitted a surrender request” to the state government for its coal and gas exploration licence covering 500 square kilometers — including the town of Colac and a large region of the Otway Ranges — said the October 7 Colac Herald.

This is the second coal exploration venture in the area that has withdrawn after Mantle Mining pulled out of its project in the Deans Marsh area.

The withdrawal occurs less than two weeks after 100 residents packed a hall at Forrest, in the Otway Ranges, to organise opposition to the project.

A report released on September 24 by Friends of the Earth has revealed that the new Victorian planning laws restricting wind farms are costing the state dearly in jobs and investment.

More than 100 locals attended a public meeting in Forrest, in Victoria's Otway ranges on September 16 to show their concern about coal seam gas (CSG) exploration in the area.

Two companies, CFT CBM Holdings and ECI International, have CSG exploration licences over large areas in the Otway Ranges.

Will NSW’s Liberal-National state government follow its Victorian colleagues and block the development of wind energy in the state?

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced new planning laws on August 29 that ban wind farms from large areas of the state. The laws put so many hurdles in the way of new wind developments that most wind companies are now talking of abandoning further developments in the state.

About 100 supporters rallied in persistent rain at Sylvia Creek, in the Toolangi State Forest north-east of Melbourne, to protest logging operations by Vic Forests. The supporters joined locals and forest campaigners who have been blockading the 19-hectare “Gunbarrel” coupe for five weeks.

Close to 1000 people turned out on August 14 for a rally to “Save the Kimberley”. Musicians entertained the crowd in between speakers from environment groups and Indigenous communities.

The protest was called by local group Country Calling in support of the campaign to prevent a natural gas processing facility being built at James Price Point, called Walmadan by the Indigenous people of the area. The point is on the Dampier Peninsula near Broome, Western Australia, in the famous Kimberley wilderness region.

More than 100 community supporters, environmentalists and trade unionists assembled on the steps of Trades Hall in Melbourne to launch the “100,000 Australians” campaign.

A project of the Earthworker co-operative, the campaign seeks to build a cooperatively-owned factory making solar hot water systems in Morwell, Victoria.

The project is hoping for 100,000 Australians to join the Earthworker Cooperative at $20 a member to raise the $2 million needed for the “Eureka’s Future” factory machinery, fit-out and finish.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has claimed a victory after company Mecrus Resources Pty Ltd removed coal and coal seam gas from its application for a resource exploration licence in Victoria.

FoE raised the alarm on August 5 about the company's application with the Department of Primary Industries to explore for a range of resources in south-western Victoria, including mineral sands, brown and black coal, coal bed methane (aka coal seam gas), gold, silver, platinum and other minerals.

By August 8, the company had removed coal and coal seam gas from the application.

The ABC’s Four Corners on July 25 showcased the national debate around wind farms’ alleged negative health effects.

It patiently allowed the anti-wind power Waubra Foundation to walk the audience through their case that wind farms are a health hazard. Many people I have met are curious to know if there is any truth to the allegations.

Climate campaigners have been understandably happy about the funding bodies for renewable energy contained in the carbon price package. It seems that these measures are largely in place because of strong campaigning by the grassroots climate movement and the Greens MPs in negotiations.

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