Australia: green-farmer alliance against coal and coal seam gas
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal, and coal seam gas expansion has begun. Many new open cut coal mines are being planned for the food bowl area of the Darling Downs. In places like the beautiful Felton Valley, near the city of Toowoomba, a large coal mine will be built alongside a petrochemical plant that, on its own, will produce about 3 per cent of Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions. 40,000 coal seam gas wells, pipelines, compressor stations and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plants are proposed for this region, and more across the country.
The impacts include the alienation and destruction of much of the best agricultural land, the degradation and draw-down of underground water systems including the Great Artesian Basin, health problems for affected communities, and the widespread destruction of wildlife habitat. The greenhouse gas emissions from the industry will increase Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 21 per cent and Australia’s overall emissions by over 6 per cent.
Friends of the Earth Brisbane’s response, the Six Degrees campaign, has involved building alliances with numerous rural action groups and communities, including farmers, who oppose the intrusion of coal and coal seam gas mining, because it threatens their lands and the well-being of their communities.
Since the state government is firmly behind the mining sector, Friends of the Earth and the various landowner groups created the Lock the Gate campaign. This campaign aims to persuade all landholders to refuse to negotiate with mining companies – in effect, to lock their gates to them. This is in spite of various laws that make it illegal to refuse to negotiate terms of access with the companies.
Now Lock the Gate has gone national, as the movement spreads across the country. A Lock the Gate Alliance has been set up to coordinate campaigns across the various states.