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Western Downs’ landholders to give evidence at Senate Hearing in Brisbane tomorrow

Western Downs’ farmers impacted by invasive coal seam gas projects look forward to giving evidence at Monday’s public enquiry into landholders’ rights to refuse to have mining companies on their properties.

Witnesses to give evidence at the Senate Hearing include Hopeland Community Sustainability Group spokesperson, Shay Dougall and Chinchilla farmers, George and Pam Bender.

Lock the Gate’s president, Drew Hutton, who will also give evidence to the committee, said the group supported landholders having the power to veto coal and gas mining on their land.

“Currently no states, including Queensland, give landholders the legal power to stop mining companies from undertaking large scale coal and unconventional gas mining on their land,” he said.

“We think it should be a State Government responsibility, rather than a Federal one and we thank the Senator Larissa Waters for bringing this Bill to the table.” 

The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications is holding the enquiry into Senator Waters’ Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Coal and Gas) Bill 2015.

“At present the states rely on royalty income from mining and, at the same time, have the responsibility of protecting the environment and communities impacting by these proposals so there’s an obvious conflict of interest,” Mr Hutton said.

“We would like tighter and more relevant Federal environment and heritage laws to better prevent the degradation of land, water and other natural resources by mining interests, and thus to properly protect the broader public interest. “

Mrs Dougall said communities must have a say in the future of their local environments.

“We are being hammered by coal seam gas companies out here at the Western Downs,” she said. “The impacts aren’t just felt by individual landholders;   the social and environmental costs are heavily felt by the whole community and governments just don’t seem to give a damn.”

Other groups to give evidence at the hearing include the Environmental Defenders Office, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, the Basin Sustainability Alliance and medical expert, Dr Geralyn McCarron.

See Senate Hearing rundown here

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