Coexistence between farmers, miners a 'cruel hoax'

2nd November 2016 10:29 AM
Basin Sustainability Alliance president Lee McNicholl was relected at the AGM on Friday. 28/10/16. NOT AT ANY COST: Basin Sustainability Alliance chair Lee McNicholl was re-elected at the AGM on Friday. Alana Calvert

LANDHOLDERS, community members and stakeholders journeyed to Chinchilla for the Basin Sustainability Alliance AGM to discuss coal seam gas and coal mining in the Surat Basin and the ongoing impacts on the Great Artesian Basin and the agriculture sector.

About 50 attendees heard re-elected BSA chair, Lee McNicholl, express his disappointment about the absence of Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh at the Club Hotel on Friday.

"Councils need to come to grips with what is happening to the long-term viability of the agricultural sector in this region and they need to speak up more loudly and fight for agricultural interests," Mr McNicholl said.

"I had hoped that Paul McVeigh would be a good advocate."

Founded in the Dalby region in 2010, the BSA expanded across the Surat Basin in the ensuing years, something Mr McNicholl said was a reflection of "coal seam gas expansion in recent years" and community and agricultural concerns about the government's lack of mitigation or regulation over mining companies.

"The inconvenient truth is that agricultural and mining sectors are in serious competition for dwindling water resources.

"And the convenient fiction of peaceful coexistence will be exposed as wishful thinking" he said.

"The promise of endless coexistence is nothing but a cruel hoax. A cruel short-term hoax propagated by irresponsible politicians who are the captors of the mining sector."

The AGM heard from guest speakers, including Dr Methuen Morgan who completed a research thesis published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology earlier in the year looking at the "behavioural responses, coping style, resilience and mental health outcomes" of farmers dealing with CSG companies compared to farmers who weren't, with a sample containing 30% of Western Downs farmers.