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Environment Department must stand up to QGC on coal seam gas pipeline construction near Miles

Lock The Gate Alliance and landholders in the Columboola Creek area south-east of Miles are calling on Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) Executive Director, Andrew Connors to stand by his recent public assurances that Queensland Gas Company (QGC) pipeline contractors would cross Columboola Creek, near Miles, using underground Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) rather than above-ground trenching operations.

Despite Mr Connors’ unequivocal public statement in the Chinchilla News (18th October 2012) that QGC’s Environmental Management Plan requires Columboola Creek to be crossed using HDD methods, the Department’s coal seam gas Manager, Ian Heiner, informed local landholders that QCLNG intend to undertake open trenching methods.

Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, condemned the divisive and underhanded tactics employed by QGC land liaison officers and contractors.

According to landholders QGC has ignored repeated requests for written confirmation of QGC’s plans for the Columboola Creek crossing and attempted to pit neighbour against neighbour by implying that the decision to trench across Columboola Creek was a direct result of DEHP being informed about drilling mud spills.

Mr Hutton today challenged the DEHP to publicly demonstrate that it is more than just a rubber stamp for the resource industry in Queensland by conducting a thorough investigation.

“Here again we see a breach of faith with landholders by QGC, added to what is almost certainly a number of breaches of the Environmental Authority under which they are required to operate near Columboola Creek,” Mr Hutton said.

“Lock The Gate calls on the Minister of Environment and Heritage Protection Mr Andrew Powell to demonstrate that his department is serving its function, rather than having become just a ‘tick-and-flick’ sham interested only in facilitating ever-greater profits for resources companies.

“Any attempt to cross the Columboola Creek by means other than horizontal directional drilling underground will be the latest in a long series of incidents wherein QGC has demonstrated a blatant disregard both for the environment and for the livelihoods of local landholder.

“It will also prove that the DEHP is a toothless entity in the thrall of gas and mining interests.”

“Lock The Gate calls on Minister Powell to take this opportunity to show the people of Queensland that their elected representatives and government departments can be trusted to act fairly and swiftly in the public interest.”

Independent investigations into further possible breaches by QGC of both the Australian Pipeline Industry Association Code of Practice, and of their Environmental Management Plan, are ongoing at various points along the length of the QCLNG Project Pipeline.

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