Surf Coast Shire Council opposes Bight drilling

Published on 17 December 2018

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Surf Coast Shire Council is the first Victorian council to formally oppose plans for oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

Councillors resolved at their December meeting to oppose plans for drilling, and to communicate the stance to energy company Equinor, as well as the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), state and federal government ministers and members of parliament, and Victorian coastal councils.

Council considered the matter in response to receiving of a community petition at its November meeting.

No oil production is underway in the Great Australian Bight but Equinor has two oil exploration permits covering a total of about 12,000 square kilometres.

Anglesea ward Councillor Margot Smith said Council’s resolution acknowledged potentially dire, widespread environmental and economic consequences should an oil spill occur.

“Though Council has no regulatory authority in this area, it is important that we formalise our opposition and make that position known,” Cr Margot Smith said.

“There is clearly passionate community opposition to drilling in the Great Australian Bight, and concerns about the potential impacts of a spill. Even though the risk of a disaster occurring may be low, any risk is unacceptable.

“As a Council we strive to demonstrate environmental leadership and provide a voice for our community.

“We have much to protect, and importantly this resolution includes actions to advocate our position, thereby strengthening any broader opposition to proposed drilling.”

South Australian councils have formalised opposition to oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

Victoria’s Moyne Shire Council in July 2018 passed a resolution acknowledging concerns, requesting full consultation from Equinor and updates from Equinor and NOPSEMA.

Equinor’s draft environment plan for the drilling is expected to be open for public comment for four weeks early in 2019, before it is submitted to NOPSEMA for assessment.