- The Guardian
- Issue #2056
Isaac Regional Council building. Photo: Kerry Raymond – Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)
A council in regional Queensland that hosts the highest number of coal mines of any local government in the state wants the Palaszczuk government to “revoke” its recent approval of Blue Energy’s planned 530 well gas field.
The Palaszczuk government approved the company’s environmental authority in March. However, Isaac Regional Council has since requested the approval be revoked, due to Blue Energy’s lack of social impact assessment, workforce analysis, lack of engagement with the regional council and broader local community, and probable damage to the region’s roads.
The council fears the gas field will threaten the social fabric of the community. It also notes Blue Energy failed to provide sufficient information about how the project would impact the local housing market, traffic network, and existing workforce.
Last year, the traditionally resource-supportive council passed a motion condemning Adani’s behaviour, alleging non-compliance with the company’s infrastructure and employment conditions.
Action group Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said the council’s submission showed locals were fed up with mining companies who “didn’t give a stuff” about the community where they operated, and the Palaszczuk government’s environmental laws let them get away with it.
“You would have thought Blue Energy would have learnt the importance of a social licence after locals kicked it out of the Wide Bay. Clearly, this hasn’t happened,” she said.
“Isaac Regional Council has borne the brunt of some of the most negative social and environmental impacts of Queensland’s coal industry. It’s clear the council is now saying enough is enough to both the Palaszczuk government and to companies that try to barge in and damage the social fabric and existing infrastructure of the region.
“It’s typical of coal seam gas companies to try to run roughshod over the community in which they want to operate. It has caused heartache and community destruction on the Darling and Western Downs.
“We strongly commend Isaac Regional Council for making such a determined stand against this gas field. We urge the Palaszczuk government to heed these concerns, and revoke Blue’s environmental authority as part of its internal review.”
Mackay Conservation Group climate campaigner Imogen Lindenberg said, “In addition to the social damage they cause, coal seam gas projects like what Blue Energy wants to build inflict massive environmental destruction.
“They produce millions of tonnes of wastewater and also contribute to climate change, which is harming the Great Barrier Reef.
“Here in Mackay, we’re particularly vulnerable to climate change-driven extreme weather, such as more severe cyclones, flooding, and bushfires.
“The Queensland Palaszczuk government should listen to concerned community groups and councils, and revoke the environmental authority for this disastrous project.”
Lock the Gate Alliance is separately writing to Federal Environmental Minister Tanya Plibersek, requesting that she call in Blue Energy’s gas field for assessment under the EPBC Act.
The Isaac Council’s submission and revocation request was made available to all groups who made submissions against Blue Energy’s gas field proposal, including Lock the Gate Alliance.
Federal and Queensland governments have spent $5 million on a pre-feasibility study for a new gas pipeline to link the north Bowen Basin, where Blue wants to build its gas field, to the pipeline network further south.
Blue Energy’s application did not state how many CSG wells it would require. It proposed 530 multiwell pads, with between two and six wells on each pad. State government approval has now been given for 530 wells.
The gas field would drain more than 19 billion litres of water over 20 years.
Fifty-three water bores that farmers rely on for stock and home use lie within 10 kilometres of the project.