A southeast Queensland community is alarmed Arrow Energy is trying to extend two coal seam leases, with locals urging the state government to cancel the permits.
A decade ago Arrow halted gas exploration in the Scenic Rim, south of Brisbane, after an 18-month community blockade of its drilling sites.
The gas producer kept two permits near Beaudesert and, before they lapsed, quietly applied in 2018 to extend them for 15 years.
As part of its applications, Arrow had to outline its plans for viable commercial gas extraction by 2033.
The Department of Resources is assessing whether to grant the applications.
“Any resources project in Queensland is subject to rigorous environmental and tenure assessments before a grant of tenure is awarded,” a department spokesman told AAP.
Arrow, which is owned by Shell and PetroChina, confirmed its applications are pending.
The company insists it doesn’t plan to develop its gas leases “at this time”.
“If that situation changed, Arrow would, as part of our process, consult local government ahead of any development plans changing,” an Arrow spokesperson told AAP.
Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said Arrow did not consult the council before making its 2018 applications.
He plans to raise concerns about the application with the state Labor government and Arrow.
“This news will alarm residents in our region, especially because of our unique environment,” Mr Christensen told AAP.
“Many have previously played an active role to protect the region.
“I will also seek to meet with Arrow Energy to explore more positive alternatives that would align with our regions aspirations.”
The mayor said locals had a “strong intention” to not support coal seam gas development in the Scenic Rim, which is the source of six major rivers, six national parks and vast tracts of productive farmland.
Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic’s Innes Larkin said Arrow was an “environmental vandal”.
He said the company was given a $1 million fine two months ago for breaching land access rules at its Surat gas project, west of Toowoomba.
“Arrow Energy has shown contempt for farmers on the Western Downs,” he told AAP.
“We who live in the beautiful Scenic Rim don’t want this environmental vandal trashing our special place.”
Mr Larkin called on the Palaszczuk government to cancel gas permits in the Scenic Rim once and for all.
A decade ago, protests against Arrow culminated in the arrest of at least 13 people and an unofficial state government moratorium on coal seam gas in the region.
Liberal National Party MP Jon Krause said the government shouldn’t be leaving the door open for CSG companies in his electorate.
“The government should stand with the people of Scenic Rim, its farmers and tourism operators, and not renew these permits held by Arrow,” he told AAP.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart didn’t respond to direct questions about whether the government supported CSG in the state’s southeast.
He also didn’t respond when asked why the Labor government was allowing Arrow to keep its permits active.
“The government supports the resources sector for the jobs it generates and royalties that help fund our teachers, nurses and police officers,” Mr Stewart told AAP.
“But any project must stack up environmentally, financially and socially.”
He said the government ensures gas company rights and interests are balanced with those of landholders, and minimises and manages environmental impacts.
Last week, the Queensland GasFields Commission found there were no laws protecting or compensating farmers if CSG extraction caused cropland to sink.