Farmland CSG leaks show urgent need for intervention

Published: September 11, 2020

Lock the Gate Alliance has renewed its call for an immediate moratorium on new coal seam gas drilling and the granting of exploration licences in Queensland following disturbing revelations about the impact the industry is having on farmland on the state’s Western Downs.

Media is reporting there may be no way to locate the many hundreds of old coal exploration bores that exist on the Downs, which, due to CSG drilling in the area, are now acting as a conduit and bringing gas and salty water to the surface where it is erupting onto farmland and bubbling in rivers.  

The Alliance is also renewing its calls for an urgent overhaul of the Conduct and Compensation Agreement, so remedying damage caused to properties due to CSG activity in the area is the responsibility of companies, not the landholder.

“Even though the landholder in this particular instance does not have CSG operations on their property, they are clearly being negatively impacted by the industry,” said Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith.

“We know Australia’s largest insurance company is refusing to cover farmers for third party insurance if they have CSG operations on their properties, and there is a real risk this will be extended to include farms in gasfield areas, even if they don’t host infrastructure.

“The Queensland Government should have fixed this situation a long time ago, but it will now be up to a future government, whatever it may look like, to remedy.”

Ms Smith said sadly, consecutive Queensland governments had allowed the contaminating CSG industry to expand unchecked across farmland.

“The Queensland Auditor General’s report that found governments had effectively lost track of the CSG industry is now more than six months old, and we’ve seen no improvement from the Palaszczuk Government,” she said.

“Ideally, we’d like to see these polluting CSG companies that are pockmarking productive Western Downs farmland pack up and go home. What’s clear is the Queensland Government needs to pick up its game and ensure any future damage caused by these companies is the legal responsibility of the companies to fix, not the landholder.

“It seems like a basic requirement that a company that is messing around with underground aquifers and coal seams should be required to mitigate any potential pollution they cause, but sadly, that’s not the case in Queensland.

“Clearly, this polluting industry is having a terrible impact on farms and people living in Southern Queensland, yet the Palaszczuk Government has spent its time so far in office boasting about opening up new land for CSG.

“Since it was elected five years ago, the Palaszczuk Government has released more land for CSG exploration than the size of the entire country of Belgium.

“We know much more about the direct, harmful impacts of CSG now than when it first came to Queensland, and we also know that when production is taken into account, gas contributes as much emissions to global warming as coal.

“What’s happening on Queensland’s Western Downs is a warning to other jurisdictions, particularly in NSW where they are considering opening up the North West to CSG. Premier Berejiklian should take it from people who know - CSG is simply not worth the risk.”

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Content on this site is authorised by Georgina Woods for Lock the Gate Alliance, Lismore NSW.