Lockyer Valley wants to be mine-free zone

MINE-FREE ZONE: Radio personality Alan Jones and Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones have joined forces to save the Lockyer Valley from being mined for coal seam gas.
MINE-FREE ZONE: Radio personality Alan Jones and Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones have joined forces to save the Lockyer Valley from being mined for coal seam gas. Amy Lyne
Vicki Perrin, Sarah Moles and Julie Devine with Lock the Gate founder Drew Hutton at the forum against Coal Seam Gas mining in the Lockyer Valley on Sunday, October 9. Photo Amy Lyne / Gatton Star
Vicki Perrin, Sarah Moles and Julie Devine with Lock the Gate founder Drew Hutton at the forum against Coal Seam Gas mining in the Lockyer Valley on Sunday, October 9. Photo Amy Lyne / Gatton Star Amy Lyne

More than 200 people joined the Sydney radio personality at a public forum held in Grantham on Sunday, along with Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones, Lock the Gate founder Drew Hutton and Growcom representative Matt Hood from Rugby Farm.

The forum was all in the name of protecting the Lockyer Valley from coal seam gas mining.

While coal seam gas exploration is not a current reality for the valley, the Lockyer Valley Regional Council decided the threat was close to home.

The Somerset is currently fighting against it, and the people at the forum have begun the process so that the Lockyer Valley could become a mining-free zone before it is too late.

Mr Jones said while he could not believe the area was in the position where they had to rally, he was happy to be here.

"Only 4% of Australia is prime agricultural land and this is part of that 4%. Basically I am here because I am a farmer's son," he said.

"There are people waking up every day worrying what is the future for their children."

He said we have reached the point whereby we had to indicate on national maps the land that could not be touched, kept purely for agriculture.

"They cannot co-exist, there is no co-existence, that is not possible. We are going to turn our best land into an industrial wasteland," he said.

"So if we say 'there are the lines on the map and you cannot go anywhere near there' and you don't talk about co-existence, then there will be a greater clarity for owners.

"There are about 274 local communities in Australia now who have said that the gates will be locked.

"But there should be no mining in built-up areas, none. There should be no mining prime agricultural land, there should be no mining over water."

Mr Jones said there were two issues, the mining as well as foreign ownership.

"I recently had dinner with some people including Chinese businessmen and they said, 'can I tell you confidentially, in China they are just laughing, they can't believe Australia is allowing us, Chinese interests, to come in'," he said.

"China wouldn't allow in China to let happen what is happening here."

Lock the Gate founder Drew Hutton said the forum was the first step in becoming a mining-free community.

"It is madness bordering on criminality to allow coal seam gas in this area," he said.

"Not only will it affect the soil, because you are talking about bringing up salty water and salty water on this sort of soil is death to the soil, but it also interferes with the operation of the farmer. You cannot irrigate in a gas field.

"These companies demand the right to go wherever they want, there is only one thing that stops them and that is a national park."

He said the only thing that could really stop CSG mining in this community was community resilience.

Cr Jones said the event was co-ordinated by council as well as the Ratepayers Association of the Lockyer Valley and Lock the Gate.

"Today is not about a protest. We feel that it is a celebration, a celebration of a great asset that we have been given, that we want to keep in place for farming forever and a day," he said.

Topics:  coal seam gas lock the gate lockyer valley lockyer valley regional council

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