Farmers have accused the Palaszczuk Government and gas industry of failing Queenslanders in the wake of new Gasfields Commission subsidence recommendations.
A key recommendation from the Commission’s report states “Government should consider what the course of action would be in instances where CSG-induced subsidence is predicted to have a ‘critical’ impact to the land use occurring on a property and compensation for impacts would not be an appropriate resolution.”
However, farmers say the recommendations do little more than pave the way for petroleum companies to lay waste to some of Queensland’s best farmland.
The recommendations come more than a year after farmers raised the alarm over coal seam gas induced subsidence on their properties, and their release ironically falls on United Nations World Soils Day. This year’s theme is “Soils: Where food begins" and aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management.
Dalby farmer Garry Ronnfeldt, who has suffered subsidence from coal seam gas mining on his property due to drilling by Shell and PetroChina owned Arrow Energy, said the recommendations would do little to protect farmers.
“The recommendations are more about giving gas mining companies free rein to destroy our ability to grow crops,” he said.
“Providing no pathway for the outright protection of farmland from CSG-induced subsidence is forcing farmers into so-called coexistence.
“The Palaszczuk Government put the cart before the horse when it gave coal seam gas companies thousands of hectares of Queensland’s best farming country to drill into and destroy.
“This report proves there is no such thing as coexistence between farmers and gas companies on the Condamine floodplains.
“Gas companies do as they please, and farmers, and Queenslanders who rely on the food and fibre we produce, lose out.
“Arrow Energy isn’t interested in co-existence. Arrow has acted with impunity, costing our farming operations dearly, and now the government is trying to paper that over by developing management plans some time in the future rather than just saying no and protecting our best farming country.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said, “The Gasfields Commission has put the ball in the government's court. The Palaszczuk Government now needs to recognise the situation is critical, and the only way to save farming on the Downs is to introduce no-go zones.
“After years of denial the Gasfields Commission now openly admits land is sinking on the Condamine Floodplain due to the actions of coal seam gas companies. This should ring alarm bells for the government. The bare minimum response would be to ban any more coal seam gas on intensively cultivated land.
“The government can’t manage its way out of gas-inflicted destruction. Subsidence could affect Queensland's ability to produce food for generations.
“The Palaszczuk government needs to stand up for water, soil and food production, and the Darling Downs’ biggest employer - agriculture.”