Downs growers concerned over Arrow Energy plans

Liz Wells, March 25, 2024

Springvale farmer Douglas Browne was one of a number of growers to address the media at today’s gathering in Toowoomba.

A NUMBER of growers from Queensland Darling Downs have today declared their properties “gasfield free” in the hope they can limit a feared expansion by Arrow Energy of its coal-seam gas activities in the fertile farming area.

In an event organised by the Lock the Gate Alliance, around 15 growers fronted the media at Queens Park in Toowoomba to voice their concerns.

The growers included Douglas Browne, who farms in the Springvale Road area north-west of Cecil Plains, Liza Balmain of Glendon Farming, Nangwee, and Tipton farmer Gayle J Pedler.

Ms Balmain’s family operation is typical of farms in the district, producing barley, chickpeas, cotton, mungbeans, sorghum and wheat, and uses approved amounts of water from the Condamine Alluvium to underpin its domestic needs, and irrigate.

“We’re deeply concerned about the impact to groundwater,” Ms Balmain said.

“The alluvium sits right on top of the…coal measures, so it’s very susceptible.”

Ms Balmain said subsidence of farmland, and potential impact on crop yields, was a feared impact of having CSG extraction under land south of Dalby,

“We can see the impacts that are coming our way.

“We know that CSG and farming are not compatible, regardless of the rhetoric…being pushed on us.”

Ms Balmain said the district was a leading producer of food and fibre, and crops grown on her family’s 1000ha of land in the most recent season alone include 1700 tonnes of wheat and 3000 bales of cotton.

“I would like to see the Queensland Government value agricultural production.”

Dalby grower Wesley Back also addressed the media, and said CSG wells have been put under his property as “preliminary activity”.

“I’m a victim of crime; that’s the only way to put it,” Mr Back said.

“Most of my neighbours have sold…and they just want out.”

Mr Back said the CSG activity was being undertaken by people who “have no love for the land or the people of the land”.

“We’re talking about billions of dollars’ worth of damage to the Darling Downs.

“They’ve really played the Queensland Government.”

“The government’s own departments have been saying to the government for nearly 20 years that this has got disaster written all over it.”

Tipton grower Gayle J Pedler addresses the media at today’s gathering in Toowoomba.

Some growers at today’s event cited the Qld Government’s Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 as technically offering protection to productive farmland.

However, they are fearful that expansion from the CSG sector in districts including Springvale and Tipton will happen regardless.

Arrow Energy is owned jointly by Shell and PetroChina, and operates in Qld’s Surat and Bowen basins.

According to Arrow Energy’s website, its Surat Basin operations encompass four gas fields: Tipton West, Kogan North, Daandine, and Stratheden.

Those speaking at today’s Toowoomba event primarily farm in the Tipton region.

In a statement provided to Grain Central, an Arrow Energy spokesperson said the company was “producing the gas needed for the clean energy transition.”

“Arrow is currently operating in the Dalby region, and we will engage extensively with communities before expanding to new areas in the Surat.

“When fully operational, our Surat Gas Project will have the capacity to produce enough gas to power more than four million homes every day.

“We operate in one of the most highly regulated industries in the world, and take a science-based approach to our operations.

“Arrow has hundreds of productive relationships with landholders across the Surat, and we genuinely believe the agricultural and gas industries can be productive side-by-side.


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