Scenic Rim landowners claim victory against CSG firm

January 10, 2012

Anti-coal seam gas community group Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic released the press release below on January 10.

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Scenic Rim landowners are claiming victory after a drill rig was withdrawn from the region — they believe operator Arrow Energy was concerned about a possible blockade of its coal seam gas operation in the Kerry Valley.

The infrastructure arrived on the site, just south of Beaudesert, three days ago, but was pulled out this morning before drilling could begin.

Keep The Scenic Rim Scenic spokesperson Innes Larkin believes strong talk of a community blockade was enough to make Arrow Energy consider the implications of its drill being trapped onsite for an extended period.

"This a stunning victory for our community and sends a strong message to other rural areas who feel powerless in the face of the onslaught of coal seam gas,” Larkin said.

"The arrival of the drill in Kerry caused serious anxiety for farmers and landholders — they had been campaigning for baseline studies into groundwater and were unhappy with Arrow’s push into the region before the research was completed."

Larkin said the community had been forced to consider direct action to protect its water supplies, vital to agriculture, residents and the area’s famed ecology.

“The whole point about baseline tests is to be able to show the state of bores and aquifers before drilling. There is ample evidence elsewhere to show coal seam gas drilling has potential to cause problems with underground water supplies, so we need to be absolutely certain our water will be safe,” Larkin said.

“Deciding to take action was really hard for landholders who are law abiding citizens, however with that personal journey now done, the Scenic Rim is ready to challenge any drill that comes into the shire.”

More than 80% of the Scenic Rim, a short drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, is covered by coal and coal seam gas exploration permits.

Community opposition to coal seam gas and coal mining in the region began in earnest less than six months ago, culminating in a massive Peaks Protest last October. Up to 1000 residents took to the Scenic Rim’s namesake mountains and paddocks to voice their opposition to mining, saying it threatened agriculture and tourism — the mainstays of the region's economy.

Larkin said: “Scenic Rim landowners and residents are again saying they are deeply concerned for the future of the region and no longer prepared to see mining allowed to proceed at any cost.”

He said although Arrow Energy planned to meet with interested parties later this month to discuss water monitoring, the company’s actions smacked of insincerity.

“If they were really serious about this baseline work they would not be drilling here.

“We’re calling on Arrow Energy to adopt a precautionary principle and postpone these activities until the baseline readings are done. We also want the company to commit to independent assessment of our water supplies and public ownership of the results.”

The Scenic Rim Regional Council has also stated its opposition to coal and coal seam gas in the region. In a submission to the Queensland state government last month, the council proposed changes to mining laws, which would protect the Scenic Rim and other similar regions from coal seam gas and coal mining.

Larkin said with an election looming in Queensland, now was the time for candidates to declare their hand in relation to coal seam gas and modern coal mining

“Coal and coal seam gas activities are simply not suited to agricultural areas, places of significant biodiversity and places where people live. Their health must come first and so must their water.

“If mining companies and governments aren’t prepared to act, our communities will. Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic is now investigating other Arrow operations currently underway in the region.”

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