Australians line up to defend land against CSG

January 27, 2012
Community blockaders
Community blockade to stop coal seam gas, Kerry, Beaudesert Queensland.

The small town of Kerry, located on the Scenic Rim in Queensland's Beaudesert, is a prime food-producing area one hour from Brisbane. The land is now the site of a coal seam gas (CSG) exploration well.

The community hasn't let this happen quietly. The property on which the drilling occurred has also been the site of a significant protest.

A community blockade against foreign-owned CSG company Arrow Energy stopped work on the site for almost 10 days, until the company's trucks broke through by driving over dozens of hats laid down in protest on January 21.

Protesters set up camp on January 12 outside the gates of the drilling platform. Arriving at the drilling site, we were greeted by a convergence of people including local farmers, workers, activists, Occupy groups, environmental organisations, community organisations and the Greens.

Activists from Lock the Gate Alliance and Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic were also represented on the blockade.

More than a dozen protesters were arrested. The blockade drew media coverage of protests and the spectacular act of Daniel Robins, who scaled the nine-metre high gas drilling platform, remaining up the mast overnight until January 14.

He was denied food and water by police during his protest and was eventually arrested.

Innes Larkin from Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic tried to negotiate with Arrow Energy to get drilling and exploring stopped until a full independent study into the quality of pre-existing ground water.

He also demanded drilling be stopped until a full community consultation had taken place using scientific tests and that a statement that both parties can agree on be published.

While discussing the situation in Australia, we heard of several other fracking installations and their impacts ranging from chemicals polluting water supplies to the exploding gas well in Dalby.

One protester said the drilling platform was "something from an apartheid military blockade in the Gaza strip".

In the late afternoon on January 14, Arrow Energy executive Tony Knight arrived and left while people pleaded that the rig be withdrawn from the narrow, fertile valley.

Negotiations remained unresolved and the police, security and contractors stayed on site until the end of the blockade, when the gas platform was moved from the site and trucks drove over the symbolic row of hats.

The hats had been thrown on the ground after Kerry Valley farmer Rod Anderson's passionate address to more than 100 people at the blockade.

“We have to justify ourselves to the government and justify our existence and farming and our concern for the water table to the government and to Arrow ...

“Arrow should be down here justifying their existence to have the right to ruin our water.”

CSG has been shown to affect ground water, rivers and oceans. It is necessary to cease CSG extraction methods immediately to ensure future sustainability and start using the huge subsidies and tax cuts given to corporations to fund renewable energy, free and better health care and education, and free public transport for all Australians.

Resistance considers the CSG campaign to be an important community issue drawing together people from many places, movements and political organisations who are united in fighting for food and water resource security for the future.

Video of the final day of the Kerry Blockade against Coal Seam Gas exploration activities by Arrow Energy in the Scenic Rim in south-east Queensland.


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