More than twice the number of Queenslanders have signed a petition to save farmland on the Darling Downs from a coal mine expansion than those who signed a counter petition in favour of the project.
The month-long petition - Save Acland farmers and jobs - had received a total of 3609 signatures as of 9am August 15, and is due to close tomorrow, August 16.
It was created in response to a petition by the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise in support of the controversial Acland Stage 3 project, which only garnered 1745 signatures, despite also being active for a month.
Because the Save Acland farmers and jobs petition was uploaded to the Queensland Parliament website, only Queenslanders were able to sign it, however as the opposing petition was uploaded to a private website and is no longer available, it is not clear whether there were geographical restrictions on signatories.
Oakey Coal Action Alliance spokesperson Paul King said clearly, Queenslanders understood the need to protect prime agricultural land and the jobs it supports from New Hope’s expansion at New Acland.
“The farming land around Oakey is classed in the top 1.5 per cent in Queensland. It is madness that it should be destroyed for the sake of a temporary coal mine,” he said.
“I want to congratulate Queenslanders on taking the time to sign this petition, which will now go before Queensland Parliament, so our elected leaders can hopefully understand that Oakey’s economy will be devastated if the New Acland Stage 3 expansion goes ahead.
“This coal mine expansion also poses an unacceptable threat to the underground water resources relied upon by farmers and their families in the Acland area.
“Farmers’ water allocations have already been cut by up to 50 per cent, yet the proposed expansion is slated to produce a further drawdown of 900 million litres a year from surrounding aquifers.
“Businesses in Oakey and surrounds rely on these farms to keep going - if the farms go, so will the local economy.”
The petition follows revelations New Hope has recently reneged on a promise to move its massive coal dump and rail load-out facility from the township of Jondaryan, with the Coordinator General now assessing a submission for the coal dump to remain at the site for another five years.