Landowners in the Kerry Valley, near Beaudesert in south-east Queensland, have launched a peaceful blockade against Arrow Energy’s attempt to begin exploratory drilling for coal seam gas (CSG) in the Scenic Rim region.
The protest was organised by the community group Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic. The blockade follows the success of similar blockades against CSG drilling that took place in the Liverpool Plains and Gloucester last year.
At least nine protesters were arrested at the blockade on January 13. Another protester, Daniel Robins, climbed Arrow Energy’s drilling rig and stayed up there overnight. He was still on the rig on the morning of January 14.
On January 10, locals hoped the threat of a community blockade had caused Arrow Energy to back down after it removed a drilling rig from the Kerry site. But the company brought the rig back soon after.
Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic says it wants the drilling to stop to allow for scientific tests on how CSG mining affects the groundwater.
It also calls for an independent study into CSG’s impact on water in south-east Queensland and “genuine community consultation between Arrow and Scenic Rim residents”.
One Kerry farmer at the blockade told Fairfax Media News on January 13: “We are very concerned because our whole enterprise depends on groundwater. Now if they stuff it up, which they surely will do, then that’s the end of us and the end of a lot of other farms in this valley.”
Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina jointly own Arrow Energy. In June, the company was fined $40,000 for entering a property near Dalby without the landowner’s permission. In May, an Arrow Energy CSG well near Dalby blew out, spewing a mix of methane and water 90 metres high for a day.
Supporters from other Queensland and NSW communities affected by CSG mining were reported to be headed to Kerry to join the community blockade.
In the January 14 Courier Mail, Arrow Energy took out a large advertisement in the jobs section, offering positions for a “media relations specialist” and two “communications officers”.
For more details about the blockade, or to donate to the campaign, visit http://www.keepthescenicrimscenic.com/