The deteriorating situation on the Western Downs concerning Shell-owned Arrow Energy and its attempts to foist dirty and polluting coal seam gas on farmers is further evidence the industry is unable to coexist with agriculture, says Lock the Gate Alliance.
This morning, the Queensland Gasfields Commission released an unprecedented press release, asking Arrow Energy to voluntarily fall into order after the company was placed under investigation over allegations of illegal horizontal drilling.
The Commission also called on the Queensland Palaszczuk Government to finalise its investigation into the company, which has conducted illegal horizontal drilling beneath farmers’ properties near Dalby.
As well, the Commission took aim at the government over its failure to improve the Regional Planning Interests Act (RPIA), which the commission said lacked transparency and clarity.
Dalby farmer Zena Ronnfeldt, who has been impacted by Arrow Energy’s illegal drilling, said it was a positive step for the Gasfields Commission to come out publicly, but the Palaszczuk Government was fobbing off the concerns of farmers when it came to compliance enforcement.
“I’m really angry because I have made business investment decisions on my farm, my day to day business, based on the expectations that Arrow Energy would be compliant with the existing laws,” she said.
“Instead, Arrow Energy has put our business and our future at risk by operating unlawfully.
“It’s a positive step the Gasfields Commission has come out publicly and effectively demanded the government take action and finalise its investigations so landholders in priority agricultural areas know what’s going on.
"But the Palaszczuk Government is fobbing off landholders with side tracked assurances that will take years to put in place in response to RPIA recommendations, while Arrow is committing unlawful actions right now.
“We need urgent action on enforcement and we need an urgent independent investigation.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said “The Gasfields Commission, as a government appointed body, has traditionally sided with industry and the government. For it to issue a public call like this suggests there has been a breakdown in communications.
“The situation on this prime cropping land near Dalby is so dire, what we need is an independent investigation, and a moratorium on all future gas developments - at least until the Palaszczuk Government gets the rules and regulations in order.
“The government and the Commission need to get tough with Arrow Energy - without serious penalties this recalcitrant company will not improve its behaviour. Voluntary codes have been tried and they have failed.
“The coal seam gas industry by its very nature divides communities, pitting neighbour against neighbour as it drains aquifers and pollutes water, land, and the atmosphere. It can’t be trusted.”