Darling Downs farmers are crying foul after they were given just 15 business days to read and respond to a nearly 500 page application by coal seam gas company Arrow Energy to drill deviated wells on some of the state’s most productive agricultural land.
If approved, the regional interests development approval (RIDA) application by Shell and PetroChina owned Arrow Energy would allow the company to drill deviated CSG wells on land in the Ducklo area south west of Dalby - a district renowned for its world class cropping.
The move comes after Arrow was fined $1 million in March this year for ignoring land access laws and illegally drilling deviated wells beneath farmers’ land.
Arrow applied for a RIDA on July 21 last year, however was later served a noncompliance letter after it was unable to provide sufficient information to the Queensland Government.
Even though the farms Arrow is targeting for unconventional gas drilling are classed as priority agricultural land and strategic cropping land, Queensland laws do little to protect it. In fact, an Environmental Defenders Office analysis recently showed that since the Regional Planning Interest Act was created in 2014, not one RIDA application to drill for CSG in priority agricultural areas has been rejected.
Chinchilla landholder advocate and Chair of Property Rights Australia Shay Dougall said Arrow Energy was once again treating farmers and Australia’s best agricultural land with disdain.
“Farmers can’t be expected to wade through, let alone respond to a document of this size and importance in just 15 days while they are trying to put food on the table for Queenslanders,” she said.
“We’re facing a food supply crisis and an energy crisis, yet in Queensland the Palaszczuk Labor Government is happy to sacrifice farms so companies like Arrow can rip the gas and water out from under our feet and send it overseas to the highest bidder.
“We’ve requested an urgent extension to the 15 business day timeframe; this is the one opportunity that these farmers have to influence the state’s decision on these CSG activities and the impact they have on their businesses.
“A 15 day timeframe for a meaningful contribution is absurd.
“The Palaszczuk Government must put the spirit and intention of the RPIA into action so priority agricultural land is preserved. It must not blindly follow arbitrary dates that would only serve to appease Arrow Energy.”
Submissions in response to Arrow’s RIDA are due this August 15.