AgForce working to calm Queensland farmers CSG fears

IN JUST two years, the intense trench warfare between landowners and the coal seam gas companies appears to have calmed.

But AgForce Queensland general president Brett Finlay told a mining conference there was more yet to be done.

Mr Finlay was frank with his words, recalling the days through 2010 and 2011 when AgForce offices were inundated by panicked calls from farmers after having the hard word put on them by determined CSG firms keen to drill on their land.

At that time, the pervasive fear of CSG "was like fire outbreaks across the whole of the state," he said.

"Some were calling to say they had a knock at the door from a gas company and they had all the drilling machinery on the street ready to come on to their land.

"Landholders were telling us they were feeling pressured, pressured to sign agreements they knew almost nothing about."

He did not name specific organisations, but said there were huge differences with how gas firms handled the dealings although all four were now consistently better at working with the public.

Mr Finlay said the CSG issue in the Surat Basin was "red hot" at the time, with some AgForce members joining Lock the Gate cause against CSG development while others were satisfied with negotiated deals.

Since then, the industry had appeared to learn its lessons in signing thousands of land-access deals with owners
AgForce members still had questions on what impact there would be on water and bores.

These needed to be answered if the industry wanted confidence from the community and the agricultural sector.

Mr Finlay said he was confident a firmer acceptance would come with time with improving relationships.

"It's about finding a balance," he said.

"We know we have to exist in the same landscape, we need to work together."