Margaret Howes, Empire Vale
I refer to the NSW government’s media releases on coal seam gas development, and the recent CSG poll in Lismore.
I recently advertised some equipment for sale. A farmer responded from Cecil Plains in Queensland. While on the phone, I asked him if he was affected by csg on his farm, as I knew a protester blockade was being organised at Cecil Plains. He replied that he was one of the affected farmers and had lost two of his stock watering bores which had dried up as a result of CSG activities nearby.
This man and his father came to see me. They told me that Arrow Energy had paid the Qld government $35,000 for the exploration licence in the Cecil Plains area, and Arrow had had to lodge a $30million environmental bond with the government.
This father and son partnership told me they owned 1500 ha of food producing land on the Darling Downs. They said Arrow Energy recently entered their property and did some exploration work. Methane gas was found only 30 metres below the surface and the value Arrow placed on the gas was $200,000 per ha. This meant that Arrow would extract $300million worth of gas ($200,000 x 1500ha).
In return Arrow had offered to pay $750,000 in total compensation over a 20 year period. They said Arrow wanted to drill gas wells every 65ha and connect them with roads, pipelines and powerlines. This act alone of drilling 24 gas wells would render their family farm unworkable. They said the $750,000 over 20 years was less than a third of the value of the farm. They are now fighting to keep the gas company out and for the right to farm their land – and they still have to pay off the mortgage.
They told me that a neighbouring farm had been purchased by a non-farming family who owned a construction company. They said the neighbour was happy to let Arrow Energy extract gas in return for the construction work building dongas for the csg fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers.
If you think CSG is a good idea, ask yourself what the impact will be on the future food supply to your dinner table, as you can’t eat methane gas. It is not just about clean water.