The Victorian Coalition Government today announced a boost to the research and oversight of potential coal seam gas extraction with the signing of a national agreement with the Commonwealth Government and the establishment of a new Ministerial Advisory Council.
Premier Ted Baillieu said Victoria had signed a National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development to ensure that future decisions were informed by improved scientific and independent expert advice.
"Victoria has strict regulations in place governing coal seam gas exploration which ensure strong protection of the environment," Mr Baillieu said.
"By signing the Agreement, the Victorian Coalition Government will deliver $10 million in new funding for important scientific research, particularly into Gippsland water resources.
"The extraction of natural gas, both onshore and offshore, has been safely regulated for more than 40 years, protecting communities and the environment. We will ensure that this record continues," Mr Baillieu said.
Under the Agreement, Victoria will have access to advice from the Commonwealth's new Independent Expert Scientific Committee to strengthen the assessment of any proposals for coal seam gas development or large scale coal mining.
Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O'Brien said demand for natural gas in Victoria was expected to double by 2030.
"The government, community and industry have a responsibility to all Victorian households and businesses to develop and support safe, reliable and affordable solutions to our energy needs in the face of rising energy prices," Mr O'Brien said.
The National Partnership Agreement has now been signed by Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
Mr O'Brien also announced he will establish a new Earth Resources Ministerial Advisory Council.
"The new Advisory Council will help the community, landholders and industry to identify emerging issues and potential solutions, and it will help the Victorian mining industry to work alongside communities and landholders, particularly farmers," Mr O'Brien said.