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Some of state's best farming land under subsidence threat


The State Government’s Gasfield Commission has warned cropping farmers that land subsidence caused by coal seam gas operations was likely continue as the industry “extends across some of our best farming land”.

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The issue has been bubbling away around Dalby for years with farmers claiming crucial cropping land had been badly impacted by subsidence.

The Gasfield Commission chief executive Warwick Squire said in a newsletter that initial modelling by the Office for Groundwater Impact Assessment indicated that “most of the cropping areas around the Condamine River floodplain, south of Dalby, is likely to experience less than 100mm of subsidence”.

“However, it was also observed that some areas may experience subsidence levels of up to 175mm,” Squire said.

The issue is a major one for crop farmers who rely heavily on their land and its slope for drainage and overflow. Subsidence can mean water pools in affected parts and makes it unusable, or diverts water away from its normal flow.

It’s one of a number of issues for farmers in the Western Downs since CSG was developed more than a decade ago. Other issues related to fracking, groundwater, land access and compensation.

Squire said it was vital that the commission had a good understanding of the impact and that landholders were protected.

He said a regulatory review and recommendations had been put together and they were based on a scientific understanding of subsidence to show where a higher level of management was needed and provide expert advice.

Landholder activist group Lock the Gate said the recommendations did little more than pave the way for more CSG companies.

It cited the experience of subsidence affected Dalby farmers Garry and Zena Ronnefeldt, who said the recommendations were about giving gas companies free rein to destroy the ability to grow crops.

“This report proves there is no such thing as co-existence between farmers and gas companies on the Condamine floodplains,” Garry said.

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