Western Downs farmers and Lock the Gate Alliance are calling on the Palaszczuk Government to halt the destructive coal seam gas industry’s expansion on prime farmland, following new allegations of illegal drilling committed by the Shell/PetroChina-owned Arrow Energy.
The Palaszczuk Government has confirmed it is investigating Arrow Energy, following a complaint from a farmer nine months ago that the company drilled beneath a property without the necessary planning approvals or entry notices.
Farmers recently discovered Arrow was planning to drill directional wells beneath another property and near a dam used for irrigation, claiming exemption from the Regional Interest Planning Act - the act that is meant to protect prime farmland from resource exploitation but in practice is easy for mining companies to circumvent.
The company must first possess a Regional Interest Development Approval or obtain agreement before drilling such critically important farmland, however Arrow does not possess this.
Arrow has previously admitted fault for conducting directional drilling beneath farmers’ properties without the legally required entry notices.
“It seems Arrow Energy will stop at nothing to get at the gas beneath our prime farming country,” said Dalby farmer Zena Ronnfeldt.
“The Palaszczuk Government needs to hit pause on this barely-regulated industry before it’s too late.
“We need an independent inquiry and a watchdog that actually does its job rather than promoting the industry as the Queensland Gasfields Commission and Resources Department do at the moment.”
Arrow Energy is in the process of building its Surat Gas Project - a gigantic gasfield that would mean more than 2000 CSG wells are drilled over an area more than three times the size of the ACT between Millmerran, Dalby, and Chinchilla.
There are currently more than 8000 producing coal seam gas wells pockmarking the fertile farming country of Queensland’s Western Downs and Central Highlands.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said, “Farmers are right to be angry at the treatment they are receiving from Arrow Energy and the Palaszczuk Government.
“They are suffering all the impacts even though they haven’t consented to gas infrastructure on their land.
“The Palaszczuk Government must urgently implement an independent inquiry into how drilling has occurred without approval and why these activities are occurring on prime agricultural land.”