The Queensland auditor-general's report on managing coal seam gas activities exposes an incredible failure by successive governments to protect landholders and adequately regulate the unconventional gas industry, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
The report sought to examine the effectiveness of government departments and authorities in regulating the coal seam gas industry in the state.
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Naomi Hogan said the report showed the dangerous unconventional gas industry had been allowed to run rampant across Queensland without adequate regulation, to the detriment of regional communities, agriculture, and the environment.
“In their mad rush to exploit the state's gas resources, successive Queensland governments permitted the proliferation of the risky CSG industry without a safe, reliable regulatory framework in place,” she said.
"The lack of consistent regulation is particularly worrying given governments have allowed polluting gasfields to pockmark some of the state's most valuable agricultural land.
"The report reveals a litany of serious ongoing concerns from landholders about consultation failure, failure to compensate for negative impacts, and failure to protect agricultural interests.”
Particularly troubling remarks from the report include:
- Concerns from landholders and other stakeholders persist regarding the effectiveness of the framework in managing issues such as priority agricultural areas, offsite impacts, and the long-term environmental effects of coal seam gas activities.
- Some stakeholders commented to us that the consultation seemed to be more of a notification than a meaningful consultation. For stakeholders to feel that consultation is meaningful, it needs to occur at a time when they can influence the outcome.
- Landholders and their representatives continue to express concern that they have struggled to obtain remedy and/or compensation for offsite impacts.
Ms Hogan said based on publicly available information, it was clear the CSG industry was having a detrimental impact on agriculture in Queensland.
"The industry is having a major impact on groundwater resources on the fertile Western Downs,” she said.
"CSG drilling in the Surat Basin has drained 127 water bores, with the Palaszczuk Government now predicting a total of 571 will run dry in the future due to rampant gasfield expansion.
"Unfortunately, landholders can feel overwhelmed due to a lack of information about who to turn to for assistance when gas companies come knocking, and are often bullied by CSG companies into accepting wells and infrastructure on their properties.
"Regional Queenslanders deserve better. Lock the Gate Alliance calls on the Palaszczuk Government to increase landholder rights in dealing with CSG companies and amend regional planning laws to prevent CSG on priority agricultural lands and ecological areas"