The Federal Government has given approval to Arrow Energy for 4,000 new coal seam gas wells in the Bowen Basin, including up to a thousand wells that can be fracked.
These wells will stretch hundreds of kilometres from northeast of Moranbah to Blackwater, west of Rockhampton. No information has been provided on exactly where each well will go and how many may be on any one property.
Thousands more hectares of bushland will be cleared for these wells, and the project will require the removal of between 15 and 30 million litres of groundwater per day. There has been no clear plan outlined by Arrow for how they will dispose of this volume of water, but clearly anticipates that some may be directly discharged into the Isaac River.
Like previous approvals for coal seam gas production in Queensland, this approval requires the creation of a Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan for the collection of data and better understanding of groundwater and the impact the CSG industry will have on it.
This plan will need to be peer-reviewed and Arrow will not be allowed to commence extraction of water or CSG until the groundwater plan is approved by Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt in writing.
Lock the Gate believes that the approval of such a large-scale project without adequate knowledge of groundwater impacts is reckless in the extreme.
Landholders in the Surat Basin that were promised make-good agreements are still locked in protracted battles with coal seam gas companies years down the track and their water is vanishing. Landowners and communities in Arrow Energy's project area may face the same fate.
This approval also gives the minister the power to direct Arrow to cease water or gas extraction if trigger levels are exceeded. Lock the Gate asks, why wait till there is a problem? Put a stop on the project right now because this huge industrial gasfield is just not safe.