CSG should be ‘no go’ if farmers say ‘no’

The Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) has applauded Federal Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Ian Macfarlane’s comments that landholders should have the right to say no to coal seam gas (CSG) development on their properties.

Speaking at a rally at Cecil Plains on Saturday, Mr Macfarlane made the comments to a crowd of over 500 people, saying that the Opposition’s policy is “that you don’t extract coal seam gas, and you certainly don’t mine this sort of country, unless the farmer says you can.”

At the rally, Mr Macfarlane said “where farmers don’t want that, then that’s the farmers decision and that’s what everyone should abide by”.

BSA Chairman David Hamilton said it was encouraging to hear Mr Macfarlane advocating for a more sustainable approach to CSG development by stating that “if landholders are concerned about the destruction of their land or water resources, then they should be able to choose not to have CSG wells on their property”.

Mr Hamilton urged the Queensland Government to revisit the Petroleum and Gas Act and remove the clauses that require landholders to enter into agreement with the CSG companies.

“The reality for every property owner impacted by CSG companies is that they legally have no power to stop the CSG companies accessing their land. Landholders are being forced into providing business information and plans in order to facilitate access to their property. It is very difficult for landholders to afford legal support, because whilst the CSG companies are required to pay legal fees, many are only willing to do this after landholders sign a Conduct and Compensation Agreement. We know of landholders who feel intimidated by having the payment of legal fees held over their heads to force them to sign agreements. We must correct this power imbalance and make the CSG industry more accountable.”

Mr Hamilton said land access was just one concern.

“There are so many unresolved issues relating to water, air, land, social and economic impacts. BSA and other groups have been calling for a more balanced, sustainable approach for years and very little has changed. The CSG machine is rolling on despite multiple detrimental environmental impacts that have been identified.”

“We don’t want to see land and water destroyed by CSG and we don’t want to see landholders completely disempowered. It is about time Government took these concerns seriously. If CSG development on private land was everything it is said to be cracked up to be by both the industry and government, then you would not find good-natured farmers and business people being dragged kicking and screaming to the table.”

“The core of the issue is that we have a regulatory framework that continues to fail landholders and the environment.

“Sadly, families are now having very difficult conversations to pinpoint the lengths they are prepared to go to protect their families, their business interests and their lifestyle. Some are fearful that this may result in them being arrested. These are reasonable law-abiding people, everyday mums and dads, at their wits end who are feel like they are left with little choice.”

“We thank Federal Member Ian Macfarlane for his leadership on these issues and urge him to counsel our state government to ensure that our precious food producing resources, including the people most directly affected – our farmers and graziers, are protected by real action and not just empty promises.”