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Community & Business

11 October, 2022

Councillor looks at Coal Seam Gas

Toowoomba Regional Councillor Meagan O’Hara Sullivan has taken an interest in the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry as it edges east.

Following a community Information and support session in the St Ruth Hall on 3rd August, the agricultural community west of Dalby invited members of Toowoomba and Western Downs Regional Councils to a field day and information session facilitated by consultant Shay Dougall of “Molliwell” and West Prairie local Gayle J. Pedler.  

The event was originally planned as a two day session for Western Downs and Toowoomba Councillors regarding councils’ roles in managing Coal Seam Gas impacts for the region’s prime agricultural areas. 

The sessions were condensed into one eventful day on Friday of last week.  

Cr O’Hara Sullivan responded positively to the invitation. 

Representatives of Lock the Gate and the Environmental Defenders Office also attended. 

The day commenced in Dalby with a brief overview of the impacts of CSG on local agricultural communities and the connection to the Darling Downs Regional Plan 2013 and State regulation, particularly the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014. 

Cr O’Hara Sullivan heard that Regional Interests Development Approvals for areas of regional significance such as the Condamine River and priority agricultural land are rarely lodged with the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and no applications have ever been declined.

The afternoon field trip involved travelling through Nandi, observing the significant CSG activities already underway and their impacts.  

Participants then stopped to meet farmers from both council areas  in the Springvale and Grassdale districts.   

Cr O’Hara Sullivan heard directly from farmers of their experience of the lack of adequate consultation, information and support, problems with increased road traffic, noise, and lights during CSG production.  

Impacts from changes to local roads by CSG activities were discussed, for example building roads to accommodate CSG traffic can result in altering the flow of water through natural waterways resulting in inundation and loss of crops.  

Part of the trip involved changing to four wheel drive vehicles to bump through deep muddy ruts in the road and stopping near a noisy multi-well gas pad.   

At another location, the vast flatness of the land was viewed from the back of a utility.   

It was explained that LiDar surveys to detect subsidence in the ground  bounce off crops such as the lush barley and wheat crops being observed and can affect the reliability of the data for agricultural purposes.

Finishing near historic Tipton farm, those taking part were told that the proposed Coal Seam Gas developments between Dalby and Cecil Plains east of the Condamine River are split between the two councils. 

Concerns raised included proposals to drill deviated wells under the Condamine River.

Cr O’Hara Sullivan left the event with a lot of information to consider and organisers said her interest and time invested was deeply appreciated by all who were involved on the day.

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