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QLD farmers accuse Shell and PetroChina joint venture of side-stepping planning laws to drill state’s best farmland

Queensland farmers have exposed multinational coal seam gas joint venture Arrow Energy plans to begin drilling immediately next to their properties on some of the state’s best agricultural land without approval to do so under state regional planning laws.

Earlier this year, four farming families in the immediate area made a submission against Arrow’s application for a Regional Interest Development Approval (RIDA) to drill for gas on their properties. 

While that application is still pending, Arrow Energy has notified the farmers that it will begin drilling on neighbouring properties this week - properties where it has not applied for a RIDA.

The farmers have labelled Arrow’s move as likely illegal, in part because the drilling on neighbouring properties will put their own farms at risk of CSG induced subsidence, and argue these impacts need to be assessed before any drilling begins under regional planning laws.

They have also sent an official complaint to the government and Arrow, but are yet to receive a formal response to the issues raised.

Springvale farmer Celia Karp said Arrow’s attempts to drill for gas on a farm surrounded by the four properties demonstrated the company’s total disregard for the assessment process and its contempt for locals.

“Arrow Energy is pillaging high quality agricultural land while being allowed to self-assess the impacts by a compliant State Government,” she said.

“How dare the Palaszczuk Government ignore the pleas of Queensland’s farmers.

“The role of the Queensland Government is to enforce the intent of the Regional Planning Interests Act, to protect the rights of farmers from unlawful drilling activity on their land. So far the Palaszczuk Government has sat on its hands.

“Arrow’s gas drilling will have an impact on the neighbouring properties which are owned by farmers who oppose its project plans. It will lead to subsidence on the Condamine floodplain, just as other farmers in the Western Downs are now experiencing, if not worse.”

Springvale Farmer Doug Browne said, “Subsidence has been proven to occur as the result of coal seam gas extraction.

“I believe it is already happening on my property. Coal seam gas should never have been allowed on prime agricultural land, and we’re doing what we can to stop it expanding any further.”

Springvale farmer John “Kojak” Karrasch said, “The drilling and other construction Arrow plans on the neighbouring property will lead to a huge increase in noise and dust that will impact us.

“Once the new road has been built to access the gas well pads, there will also be a huge increase in the number of trucks and other traffic passing through what is usually a quiet farming area. This will all have a significant impact on our wellbeing.”

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said, “Farmers are sick and tired of Arrow treating them with contempt.

“Arrow is trying to turn this peaceful farming community into an industrial gas zone. Farmers will be subjected to round the clock noise, lights, drilling, and workers coming and going from a semi-permanent camp.

““Thousands of coal seam gas wells are planned that will ravage some of our best agricultural soils and the water beneath that sustains food and fibre production. This is the trade off the Palaszczuk Government appears happy to make.

“No matter which way you look at it, Queenslanders lose.”


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