Farmers to ‘lock the gates’ on mining companies

November 27, 2010

"You can't come in”, Friends of the Earth (FOE) organiser Drew Hutton told mining companies on behalf of a coalition of farming groups from South-West Queensland, outside State Parliament on November 22.

The farmers launched the campaign in opposition to mining companies’ plans for up to 40,000 coal seam gas wells and massive new coal mines on the farming land of the Darling Downs.

"All the laws are weighted in favour of the mining interests and against farmers”, Hutton said.

He said the move to massively develop coal and coal seam gas mining in rural regions would be "the most radical transformation of Queensland agriculture since the 19th century".

But the farmers are fighting back.

The November 23 Courier-Mail said: "An area stretching from Toowoomba to Roma has been declared a no-go zone for the mining industry after eight farming and environmental groups launched a campaign to urge farmers to lock their gates to protect agricultural land.”

Farming group representative Lee McNicol said on November 2: "The scales of justice are seriously tilted against the farming community, the community in general, and against good environmental regulation.

“We have to make a stand now to address some of these issues."

Dayne Pratzky of the Western Downs Alliance said farmers had locked mining companies out of rural residential estates near Tara and Chinchilla, home to 3000 people.

“If the government want to take us on”, Pratzky said, “they can try and bulldoze us, but they're going to need a lot more than a piece of paper and a bulldozer to get into our homes.

“They're our homes, it's where we live, it's not an industrial zone.”

Hutton said that, if mediation between mining companies and farmers fails, "urban-based activist campaigners will stand shoulder to shoulder with family farmers in their just struggle".

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