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Image Credit: Steve Olive

Warrnambool says no to drilling in the Great Australian Bight

News Article Date: 
Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Warrnambool City Council has officially condemned exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight.

At its meeting on April 1, Council voted unanimously to become the 16th Australian and the fourth Victorian Council to lodge its opposition to a proposal by Norwegian company Equinor.

Equinor currently has an exploratory drilling permit for the Great Australian Bight, but has not commenced work.

Cr David Owen, who moved the motion, said any risk of an oil spill was unacceptable.

“We can’t allow the Bight to be put at risk by an accident such as a Deepwater Horizon oil spill that discharged five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010,” he said.

“The impacts would devastate marine life, fisheries and coastal communities and would seriously tarnish the pristine image of the Australian Southern Ocean and beaches.

“The coastlines would be blackened totally and it could take decades to clean up the spill. 

“Surfing, lifesaving, and all other water sports would be a distant memory on our coast and more importantly there would be an incredible impact on the Southern Right Whale nurseries and the endangered Australian Sea Lion, of which there are only approximately 15,000 left. 

“Scientists estimate that 85 per cent of the species that live in the Great Australian Bight are found nowhere else on earth. They are truly unique and absolutely worth fighting for.”

Warrnambool Mayor Tony Herbert said that Council was united on the issue.

“We all felt that the risks associated with mining oil and gas were too great,” he said.

“The coastline of southern Australia could be at risk of an environmental disaster in the event of an oil spill or leak.

“Our community has said time and time again that they highly value out coastline and it is our responsibility to protect what we have.

“There is also a need to express to higher levels of government our desire as a community to support renewable energy into the future.”

Council will write to Equinor and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority advising them of its position.

Council will also write to state and federal ministers, members of parliament and other Victorian councils along the coast urging them to do all they can to support a ban on oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight given its importance for fisheries, tourism, internationally significant ecosystems and some of Australia’s most threatened marine life.

Image credit: Steve Olive


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