In August, 2010, as a university student, I joined a busload of concerned individuals to visit farmlands around Dalby and Roma, within the Surat Basin, Southern Queensland. I was able to meet with landholders and representatives from the Basin Sustainability Alliance as well as the dominant coal-seam gas mining companies. I saw firsthand local landholders’ concerns about the unrestrained development of coal-seam gas (CSG) and got an idea of the potential revenue this industry is capable of generating.
I also got to see the potential conflict that was developing with agricultural producers. I was grateful to experience this level of dialogue on the topic of CSG, to be introduced to an understanding of landscape systems beneath the ground involving sandstone aquifers, coal seams and varied soil types, depths and pressures, which work beneath the surface.
After this trip, it was no longer a yes-or-no answer for me on CSG. There were many and varied factors that were put on the table for discussion. The suitability of this industry will vary in each part of Australia, as each development will need to be undertaken on a case-by-case basis, reflecting the unique landscape, landholder and community expectations.
Sharing of information and data industry wide to achieve meaningful monitoring and research into environmental impacts and new technologies is something I’m in favour of. Queensland did not have enough safety measures in place. The current NSW state government has got it right in not allowing unrestrained mining. Previously there were no safeguards in place in NSW. Each community, including our own, now can evaluate both the risks and opportunities in a responsible way to get the best outcome.