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2017 Winner - Environmental Justice

Friends of the Earth

Coal and Gas Free Victoria

Significant long-term negative impacts are associated with the practice of hydraulic fracturing extraction of unconventional gas, colloquially known as ‘fracking’. These can include greenhouse pollution from fugitive emissions, potential for groundwater contamination and subsequent release of methane, public health concerns including respiratory illness, economic impacts on farming and social cohesion concerns.

In response, Friends of the Earth Melbourne initiated an awareness campaign in regional Victoria to alert communities to the potential threat, hosted an information roadshow and helped to organise more than 100 public forums.

National organisation Lock the Gate supported the campaign, and new regional ‘gasfield free’ groups were formed across the south of the state. The driving objective was to apply the precautionary principle to the question of unconventional gas drilling.

Friends of the Earth used a community empowerment model to build the skills and power of regional community-based organisations to allow them to demonstrate that the unconventional gas mining industry does not have a ‘social license’ to operate and that they are able to speak with one voice.

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Environmental Justice finalists 2017