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Senate inquiry explores coal seam gas concerns

19 July 2011

Public hearings into the impact of coal seam gas (CSG) developments on agriculture and rural communities are underway in southern Queensland this week, as part of the Senate Inquiry into the Management of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) says the hearings, taking place in Roma yesterday, Dalby today and Brisbane tomorrow, provide farmers and community members with the opportunity to have their say on concerns around the growing CSG industry.

“We are very pleased that the Senate Inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin was extended to also consider the impact of CSG developments,” said Duncan Fraser, NFF Vice-President and Chair of the NFF Mining and Coal Seam Gas Taskforce.

“There are many uncertainties around the impact such developments have on the environmental, social and economic aspects of communities within the Murray-Darling Basin - particularly the impacts on agricultural land and invaluable water resources.

“Our members, especially those in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are becoming increasingly concerned by issues associated with CSG – so much so that our Queensland members, AgForce, are today taking part in the Dalby hearing,” Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser’s comments come following the recent announcement by CSIRO that a research alliance has been formed to consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of CSG, and that public comment is now being sought on the Eastern Star Gas CSG project near Narrabri by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC).

“The debate around CSG is moving at a rate of knots. Our position, and that of our members, is not about preventing mining and CSG exploration or extraction – but rather ensuring that agriculture, CSG and mining can coexist, so as to guarantee the long-term sustainability of our food and fibre production,” Mr Fraser said.

“We recognise that this may require a more considered approach, rather than a mad rush towards resource extraction – and that is what the NFF Taskforce will be encouraging when we front the Senate Inquiry,” Mr Fraser said.

Farmers wishing to make a public comment on the SEWPaC assessment are encouraged to ring the Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772 for details.

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