Farmers put heads together

Members of the Golden Triangle farming community south-west of Emerald meet to discuss a future threatened by coal mining and coal seam gas wells.
Members of the Golden Triangle farming community south-west of Emerald meet to discuss a future threatened by coal mining and coal seam gas wells.

ALARM bells are ringing across the Golden Triangle with the prized agricultural area now facing the threat of four potential coal mines and coal seam gas wells on the Comet River flood plain.

In a show of force, 70 of the 84 affected farmers attended a meeting at Ross and Jenny Bate’s Kollarena property last Wednesday night.

“There was a lot of anger at what is proposed for the region,” ocal farmer Andrew Bate said.

“It’s changing the future of our children too.

“The drilling rigs are rolling again for coal and gas exploration companies, so there’s a lot of talk about what our rights are and how these companies are supposed to behave… another issue was some of these companies overstepping the mark.

“My message is we really have something that requires protection for future generations of food.”

Mr Bate said the meeting’s mood was tempered by newly appointed Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones’ radio comments that her number-one priority was to deliver legislation to protect high-quality agricultural land from mining.

The legislation was likely to be applicable to around 2% of land.

“Her comments have made people feel a lot better about things and she is like a breath of fresh air,” Mr Bate said.

“We’re certainly going to be writing a letter asking her to confirm those radio comments… so we have some sort of security I guess.”

Bandanna Energy has released its terms of reference for two proposed mines in the Golden Triangle – Arcturus and Springsure Creek.

Endocoal will file a mining lease application with the State Government for its Meteor Downs South project, west of Rolleston, by March 31.

Queensland Gas Company has drilled its first coal seam gas well on Ross Armstrong’s Coolibah Plains property. Other Golden Triangle farmers have received notice of entry documents from QGC.

“All this activity is a high concentration in a small area, and one of the best bits of farming country in Queensland, if not Australia,” Mr Bate said.

“At the meeting we had a lot of talk about just what a great community we have here at Gindie/Orion and how highly productive this area has been for years and how important it stay that way for future generations.

“We just cannot afford to have it destroyed.

“The Golden Triangle is so important because only a small amount of country in Queensland is capable of growing crops and we’ve got choices here.

“If you look at the National Variety Trials, Central Queensland has the highest long-term average wheat yields anywhere in Queensland for main season wheat... and recent farming systems and land development in the region has now proven we’re more reliable and higher yielding than the southern regions.

“The United Nations said we need to double the amount of food grown in the next 40 years and at the same time Anna Bligh tells us there’s a 300-year supply of coal in Queensland.

“If in 40 years time we decide coal is more important we can still go and dig it up, but destroy our farming land now and it’s lost forever.”

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