6 December 2018
Queensland Warns SA about UCG Heartache
Landowners directly affected by Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in Queensland have joined with Traditional Owners and environmentalists to send a stark warning to South Australian MPs not to allow the technology here.
UCG, a controversial process of setting fire to coal seams underground to produce ‘syngas,’ was banned in Queensland after it destroyed hundreds of square kilometres of farmland in what the then-Environment Minister described as ‘the biggest pollution event probably in Queensland’s history.’
Qld landowner Helen Bender has come to SA to warn of the dangers of UCG. Helen tragically lost her father, fifth-generation farmer George Bender, after a long, pitched battle with the invasive UCG and CSG industries. George took his own life on 14 October 2015, aged 68 years.
“I am here in SA to continue my father's legacy,” said Ms Bender.
“He was the first landowner to speak out in 2011 about the dangers he witnessed with unconventional gas.
“Even after the company in Qld that damaged our property was found guilty - It is disappointing that we are still not being heard,” she said.
“My message to the South Australian Government is that there is no second chance with this technology. You have one decision to make so you must and make sure it is the right one.”
With Helen is Sarah Moles from Lock the Gate Qld who has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban UCG in her home state.
“South Australia is the clear winner in renewable energy,” said Ms Moles.
“There is no need to risk a highly polluting technology that can have negative impacts on community health as we have seen in Queensland.”
Despite the technology being outlawed in Queensland, and countries like Scotland, Leigh Creek Energy has been granted permission to undertake a trial of UCG in Leigh Creek in the state’s North.
The trial has been fiercely opposed by Traditional Owners, and nearby residents.
“ATLA remains totally opposed to the gasification process at Leigh Creek,” said Vince Coulthard, CEO of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA).
“The Minister gave approval for a pilot project which has now failed. Enough is enough. It’s time for Leigh Creek Energy to get out of Adnyamathanha country.
“We call on the Minister to stop this toxic madness,” he said.
Conservation SA, the state’s peak environment body, says the decision to move forward with UCG in South Australia is an outrage.
“We are horrified that this dangerous technology has been given the go ahead in South Australia,” said Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of Conservation SA.
“UCG has been banned interstate and right around the world because of the damage it causes.
“We must learn the lessons from Queensland and outlaw its use here,” he said.
Media Contact: Craig Wilkins, 0417 879 439