1 November 2021. 

AgForce is calling for better protection for landholders affected by increasing coal seam gas (CSG) development.

It comes as the latest Underground Water Impact report highlights the critical role independent scientific evidence has in supporting decisions on resource projects and their impacts on important water and land assets in Queensland’s Surat region.

Figures reveal an eight per cent increase in the CSG development footprint reported since 2019, with about 8,600 wells currently and trending towards 22,000 wells at peak development.

The number of landholder bores to be impacted by CSG activities totals 702 – up 22 per cent (from 574) in 2019.

Of these, 108 bores will suffer impacts that trigger ‘make good’ arrangements within the next three years – a significant challenge for those affected bore owners.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin welcomed the findings, saying they pointed to a need to further strengthen affected landholders’ abilities to proactively negotiate agreements with resource companies.

“We need to ensure the protection of landholders’ interests is fair and effective, including transparent compliance enforcement,” he said.

“Ultimately, AgForce and its members are keen to address the challenges of coexistence of agriculture with the resource sector.

“But agricultural landholders must have equal representation, available resources, and bargaining power in negotiations around proposed developments affecting them.”

This 2021 draft report by the independent Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) is the first one to include data on the issue of land subsidence – a drop in the land surface associated with the depressurisation of the underlying coal seams that has serious implications for crop production.

Findings confirm CSG dewatering causes subsidence over and above natural ground surface movement, with up to about 90 mm of CSG-induced subsidence occurring since 2015 in some mature gas field areas, and predicted maximum total changes in ground slope of up to 40mm per kilometre in some areas.

While not addressed in the report, a key issue for landholders will be the practical impacts of subsidence on their farms and the need for certainty about how gas companies will avoid or ‘make good’ on any of these impacts.

Mr Guerin said AgForce had endorsed a range of land use protection principles that included taking a precautionary approach to alternative land uses that avoided negative legacy effects on natural resources and negative impacts on existing or future sustainable agricultural opportunities.

“We are also calling on the State Government to ensure that the directional drilling of wells underneath a landholder’s property only be authorised with the appropriate protections of a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) and allow those without agreements to use the Land Access Ombudsman,” he added.

“The time has come for governments to make their CSG compliance efforts more proactive and visible in order to improve landholder outcomes and confidence, including better communication and data sharing.”

Following the release of the draft report, public information sessions will take place in early November with submissions closing on 26 November and the final report due to Government in December.

AgForce will provide feedback on the consultation draft report and continue to engage with the State Government to ensure the best interests of landholders are promoted.



For media comments contact: AgForce CEO Michael Guerin 0488 002 092