No to CSG: Somerset
IN a rare show of political solidarity, the Lockyer and Somerset councils, as well as politicians, have united to voice their opposition to the coal seam gas (CSG) industry in the region.
The announcement by Somerset Regional Council (SRC) of their opposition to CSG in Somerset has stirred a terse response from Queensland Resources chief executive Michael Roche who labelled the SRC's resolution as "pre-election grand-standing" and questioned the council's stance, while continuing to bank the benefits of mining royalties and activity.
"We must assume as a result of SRC's announcement that it has factored in losing its per capita share of state royalties, estimated at $1.2 million this year," Mr Roche said.
"I am sure there are plenty of other communities who would be more than happy to divvy up Somerset's share of the royalty pie.
"I find it difficult to imagine that the 22,500 people in Somerset LGA are happy with the notion that their council wants to forgo that wealth creation in their community," he said.
For its part, the SRC has hit back at the statements and said Mr Roche's comments were "disappointing but not surprising" while mayor Graeme Lehmann went further in saying the opposition was about protecting the community and farmers in the area.
"We are a small council and we know the big players like the Queensland Resource Council and CSG mining interests have sufficient funds to override what our community wants," Cr Lehmann said.
Cr Lehmann also called into question the value of CSG mining in a region which was the major water catchment area for the Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams.
"I don't know if people in Brisbane are aware that the quality of their drinking water supply could be compromised unless the Somerset region is protected from these mining activities," he said.
The Lockyer Valley Regional Council (LVRC), Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss, Member for Ipswich West Wayne Wendt and Australian Party candidate for the Lockyer Valley Dave Neuendorf, have all weighed into the debate and expressed their stance on the CSG issue, with the LVRC reiterating its stance against CSG mining releasing a statement on the industry.
"Council's view and position is that we have always said we didn't want coal seam gas mining and we don't support it in any way," the LVRC statement said.
Mr Rickuss supported the SRC's stance and said the Lockyer and Fassifern Valleys should not be mined as they are strategic cropping land.
"It is good to have the support of Somerset Regional Council who have moved a motion for a moratorium of coal exploration and coal seam gas mining," Mr Rickuss said.
Member for Ipswich West, Wayne Wendt, was a lone voice in the debate but said he supported the Minister's stance on the CSG industry and questioned the timing of the SRC announcement.
"I agree with the ministers comments on the matter," Mr Wendt said.
"Somerset had their opportunity to comment and chose not to in August last year."
"They could have advised the government of their views a long-time ago," he said.
Australian Party candidate for Lockyer at the next state election, Dave Neuendorf, said he supported the Katter party policy against CSG.
"Anything which will degrade our quality of life and water resources I'm obviously against," Mr Neuendorf said.
"There is no need for it in the valley."
Mr Neuendorf has organised a public forum which will be attended by Australian Party heavyweights Bob Katter and Aidan McLindon at the Gatton Shire Hall on January 31 at 7pm for people to attend and express their opinion on the issue as well as other regional issues.