An Australian farmer group advocating best practice environmental management has stated its concerns about coal seam gas exploration and extraction projects in a policy released today. The group, Environmental Farmers Network, is calling for an embargo on coal seam gas exploration and extraction in areas where groundwater reserves are essential for high-value agricultural production or for stock water use, or in recharge areas for such reserves. The group believes that exploration and extraction of fossil sources of fuel should not be undertaken to the detriment of food security or the environment, unless very substantial greenhouse gas savings are clearly identified.
The Environmental Farmers Network promotes environmental sustainability for farming communities, and network secretary, Peter Forster, says the group would be dismayed if government allowed an industry to threaten this sustainability on the basis of short-term economic gain.
Mr Forster says “there is a distinct lack of independent scientific knowledge on both the short-term and long-term impacts of CSG exploration and extraction, including cumulative effects of multiple projects. It can be difficult to obtain objective information about coal seam gas projects because information is most often provided by organisations with a vested interest in the outcome, such as companies, governments, landholder or environmental groups.”
“However, communities hold significant environmental, social and economic concerns about these developments and these concerns must be addressed” says Mr Forster. “Community consultation processes should be open and transparent, clearly outlining what the exploration and development licences involve and what to expect. Governments should use proper planning, regulation and independent monitoring to ensure that risks are appropriately managed and that the true cost of operations is born by commercial entities and not the local or wider community”, he said.
The Environmental Farmers Network provides an alternative voice for environmentally aware farmers. Interested farmers are encouraged to read the EFN CSG policy statement.
Environmental Farmers Network
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