PEAK farming industry group, AgForce, has securely locked its scope on perhaps the “biggest threat to the future of Queensland’s agricultural production”- the burgeoning coal seam gas industry.
The group has called on the Queensland government to establish a moratorium on all CSG operations and developments around the state until the definite impacts of the process are identified and understood.
The call comes on the back of extraordinary growth in Queensland’s CSG industry over the past 15 years, during which the number of CSG wells drilled annually increased from 10 in the early 1990s to over 600 in 2009–10.
“We are calling on the government to draw a line in the sand,” AgForce senior policy director Drew Wagner said.
“The CSG industry is growing at an exponential rate and yet the impacts it will have on landholders and the land are not yet understood.
“They hold the complete balance of power and if growth continues at this rate it could spell the end for Queensland agricultural production as we know it.”
Mr Wagner labelled CSG as a “hit and run industry” that could swoop in on sustainable cropping land and leave landholders with a legacy of destruction.
Most CSG wells last for eight to 10 years before being abandoned.
There are about 3500 existing CSG wells in Queensland and within five to 10 years, that number is expected to sit around 40,000.
Mr Wagner said there were serious bio-security issues that could emerge out of CSG operations and urged the government to allow further time for studies into those possible impacts.
He pinpointed possible groundwater contaminations, aquifer contaminations during the fraccing process, and further unknown effects of dozens of personnel and wells operating on agricultural land.
“There are all types of chemicals being pumped down these wells and no one knows the full affect it will have on water,” he said.
“There is no possible compensation for landholders other than the knowledge of the full affects.
“In a worst case scenario, this could signify the end of Queensland agriculture, the destruction of our food production and the death of rural and regional communities.”
Mr Wagner added that a moratorium on CSG operations is needed to allow the time to update “outdated and unreflective policy”.
“Policy on this matter has been left behind, it is completely outdated and was constructed for a much older industry,” he said.
“CSG companies are responding to economic indication above all else and that means there is absolutely no balance to ensure the future of Queensland agriculture.”
He said interest in CSG has spread across the state with the Surat, Bowen and Galilee basins set to be impacted upon.
The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation reports the current level of coal seam gas production from the Bowen and Surat basins is more than 70% of the gas produced in the state.
According to a DEEDI spokesperson, the Queensland Government is committed to balancing the interests and sustainable growth of the agriculture and resource sectors, as both are vital.