Darling Downs farmers fear worsening impacts from coal seam gas following revelations Shell and PetroChina joint venture Arrow Energy plans to become the first company to drill east of the Condamine River next year.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said Arrow's plans to cross Condamine was symbolic of the gas industry’s unrelenting greed and willingness to sacrifice Queensland’s best farming country.
“Arrow Energy is already facing a Queensland Government investigation over allegations it illegally drilled on prime farmland near Dalby without landholder access agreements and without correct planning approvals,” she said.
“The Palaszczuk Government should have ordered this company to halt its drilling program as soon as these allegations were raised.
“This is some of the very best farming country in Queensland, if not Australia, and the government is effectively encouraging Arrow Energy to wreak havoc while at the same time apparently ignoring this company’s arrogant and likely illegal behaviour.”
Dalby farmer Zena Ronnfeldt, whose property has experienced serious subsidence as a result of Arrow’s gas wells, said she feared the problem would become worse as the gas industry expanded.
“Arrow Energy’s drilling program has and will cause major, permanent, subsidence in priority agricultural areas,” she said.
“Arrow is feeding farmers misinformation by attempting to disguise CSG subsidence. The shrinking and swelling of a cropping area is irrelevant and temporary - the soil acts like a sponge, self-restoring within hours of each rain event. Coal seam gas subsidence is random and permanent.
“Our farm is proof that when subsidence from CSG occurs, it’s serious, permanent damage that impacts our ability to farm.
“My advice to those farmers east of the Condamine is to be prepared, do all you can to inform and protect yourself because we strongly believe Arrow has conducted itself illegally under state and federal laws. Yet none of these offences have been rectified by the company and as yet there has been no action by the government.
“Arrow wants to drill its patchwork of gaswells thousands of metres horizontally below ground. Our soil is vertisol soil which cracks and moves significantly - I fear that in the future after Arrow has eventually packed up and left, subsidence, lost groundwater, and the wells and pipelines that remain will pose a tremendous threat to the region.”