Frequently asked questions - resource and land use planning

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The Victorian Gas Program’s resource and land use planning project is a regional assessment of land uses and landscape features across the Otway and Gippsland geological basins.

The project aims to identify areas of environmental, cultural, social and economic significance or sensitivity in relation to any potential future onshore conventional gas project. It will:

  • Define areas where resource exploration or development could align with existing or future uses.
  • Identify areas where resource exploration or development may not be appropriate in the context of local land values and /or features.
  • Make recommendations to the Victorian Gas Program’s policy and regulatory review process.

The assessment of the Otway geological basin has been completed.  A technical report about the Otway Basin Resource and Land Use Planning model will be released in the near future.

A preliminary assessment of the Gippsland geological basin has been undertaken.

The resource and land use planning project is part of the Victorian Gas Program, which is being undertaken by the Geological Survey of Victoria, the state geoscience agency.

A 2015 Victorian Auditor General Office Report recommended that land use planning be undertaken to identify areas for sustainable onshore conventional gas resource development by assessing potential conflicts and opportunities resulting from multi and sequential land use.

The report recommended using principles from the Council of Australia Government’s Energy Council Multiple Land Use Framework, which was developed to address challenges arising from competing land use, land access and land use change. The process aims to enable government, community and industry to effectively and efficiently meet land access and use challenges, expectations and opportunities.

The resource and land use planning project uses a proven scientifically and mathematically based approach called a multi-criteria analysis. The methodology enables consideration and comparison of a range of criteria. The project involves:

  • preparing a spatial land inventory based on publicly available authoritative datasets
  • collating the data into a series of themes
  • applying the themed data to a scoring framework to produce a preliminary spatial land use model that highlights areas of sensitivity and significance
  • consulting with communities and stakeholders to test the preliminary models
  • producing the final models for both the Otway and Gippsland basins.

Each basin’s land inventory is made up from over 140 robust technical datasets.  In most cases, these datasets are from official sources so that we know they’ve been created using sound methodologies and are therefore defendable.

Each of these datasets spatially identifies areas of sensitivity or significance (both regional and local) from an environmental, cultural and/or socio-economic perspective; as well as areas controlled by legislation.

The framework of land use themes was developed in line with other land use planning assessments undertaken by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions’ Earth Resources branch. Each theme is a high-level principle with associated criteria. Seven themes are guiding the land assessments:

  1. Environmental values
  2. Climate change vulnerability
  3. Topography
  4. Heritage value
  5. Social values
  6. Infrastructure
  7. Regional significance

A scoring framework is applied to the datasets to identify potential locations where the land may be ‘constrained’ and therefore have an impact on the potential for development of onshore conventional gas.

If land is scored as being constrained, it could mean either of two things:

  • there are features of sensitivity or significance that would need to be considered and addressed prior to any development proceeding or
  • resource development may not be appropriate in the context of local land values and/or features.

In addition, several assumptions and buffers are built into the models. Some areas just don’t make sense for development, such as residential areas, waterways and coastal areas. The land use models address these features by scoring these areas to rate them as ‘extremely constrained’.

The seven land use themes are not considered to have an equal bearing on the suitability of onshore conventional gas exploration or development. Some constraints can be mitigated or may have less impact than others. To address any imbalances, the Victorian Gas Program’s independent Stakeholder Advisory Panel on Onshore Conventional Gas conducted a weightings allocation process that was applied to the models. As a result, the ‘environmental values’ and ‘climate change vulnerability’ themes have been weighted higher than the other themes in the models.

Yes.

Community feedback was sought across the south west region during October and November 2019. Residents and other participants were invited to share local knowledge, values and insights. A total of 150 people attended the workshops. Common concerns raised included food security and protection of agricultural land, environmental risks, particularly to water supplies, gas markets and domestic gas reservation policies and how searching for new fossil fuels fits in a climate change context. The engagement feedback on the model informed updates including additional datasets being added to the preliminary model, and further refinement to the scoring framework.

A resource and land use planning model is currently being developed for the Gippsland Basin using a multi-criteria analysis.  The preliminary model was tested at a stakeholder workshop in Traralgon in March 2020 with key staff from local government and other government authorities.

Planning for community feedback is underway, and engagement opportunities will be advertised shortly.

The final models are dynamic and can be updated and reanalysed in the future. Each will provide an evidence base that can support any future regulatory licencing process, ensuring that land issues are acknowledged and addressed in early approval stages. The models will also support government and communities in understanding potential interactions with other land uses during any future acreage releases and impact assessments.

No. Unconventional gas (fracking and coal seam gas) is banned in Victoria.

The Victorian Gas Program is undertaking a range of geoscientific, technical and environmental studies to provide an evidence-based estimate of prospective onshore conventional gas resources in both the Otway Basin and Gippsland Basin.

These studies are identifying areas that are most prospective for onshore conventional gas. These areas will be overlayed onto the land use model once they have been finalised.

Unconventional gas (fracking and coal seam gas) is permanently banned in Victoria.  The Victorian Government announced on 17 March 2020 its intention for an orderly restart of the onshore conventional gas industry in Victoria.

Regulatory controls for onshore conventional gas exploration and development are provided by the Petroleum Act 1998 and regulations.

The legislation ensures that areas such as wilderness land, national and state parks are excluded or restricted for onshore conventional gas exploration and production.

The regulations require licensees to undertake an extensive and detailed assessment of land and environmental impacts, as part of the licencing process, and to mitigate any impacts. All operations are monitored and regulated closely by the Victorian Government’s Earth Resources Regulator.

More information

  • Further information is available by emailing the Victorian Gas Program at vgp@djpr.vic.gov.au
  • Ask us to add you to Victorian Gas Program emailing list by emailing a request to vgp@djpr.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 29 Apr 2020