8 February 2022. 

AgForce is calling for the State Government to better protect producer interests in negotiations with resources companies seeking access to their land.

It comes as the GasFields Commission Queensland (GFCQ) urges key stakeholders to resolve ongoing coal seam gas problems resulting from Arrow Energy’s Surat Gas Project on prime agricultural land on the Darling Downs.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said he applauded GFCQ’s push for change and welcomed the opportunity to work with the organisation going forward.

“Protection of landowner interests and the natural assets that contribute to sustainable agriculture is of paramount importance to our members,” he said.

“We acknowledge the strong engagement of many in this important conversation and implore all involved to stay at the table and work in a way that protects landscapes and our futures.”

As revealed by the GFCQ in its review of The Regional Planning Interests Act 2014, a lack of transparency and clarity around statutory obligations has been a significant problem.

Coal seam gas subsidence has also emerged as a concern for landholders in areas of intensely farmed land, and the Commission is reviewing the adequacy of the regulatory framework on this with a view to identifying potential improvements.

Mr Guerin said: “While the steps taken by Arrow to improve relations with landowners on prime ag land and impacted by subsidence have been proactive, our members align with GFCQ in requesting improved assurances.

“We remain gravely concerned that the primary legislative tool tasked with resolving regional planning interests is inadequate for protecting prime agricultural lands, and believe our land use protection principles should ideally underpin the coexistence issues GFCQ outlines.

“Transparency is also essential in order for rural communities to fully understand the regulatory framework resource companies have to follow, so they can be aware when companies are not complying.”

One longstanding request from AgForce is that landowners have an equal say in CSG negotiations, with greater certainty that their concerns with proposed gas developments on their land will be fully addressed.

A key change in delivering this outcome is for the drilling of deviated wells underneath a landholder’s property to only be authorised with the appropriate protections of a comprehensive Conduct and Compensation Agreement, particularly in light of Government data confirming land subsidence on floodplain cropping areas.

“We believe that expanding CCA arrangements as a statutory requirement for these activities will help resolve the issues landowners, Arrow and the Queensland Government are encountering,” said Mr Guerin.

“In the meantime, we welcome the chance to continue to work with the Commission and all stakeholders in order to ensure sustainable development that is beneficial to communities, landscapes, industry and producers.”



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