COAL SEAM GAS MINING and GARDEN DESIGN:

                                                                                                                   by anne@mygardendesignadvice.com.au

1. WHAT IS THE COAL SEAM GAS INDUSTRY ?
2. WHAT HAS IT GOT TO DO WITH GARDEN DESIGN ?
3. WHY JOIN THOSE CALLING FOR A MORATORIUM on COAL SEAM GAS ?
4. GIVE ME THE FACTS AND FIGURES ABOUT THIS !
5. ALREADY GOT CSG INDUSTRY ON YOUR PROPERTY ? NEGOTIATE FOR LANDSCAPE DESIGN TO HELP MANAGE ADVERSE ABOVE GROUND IMPACTS

pic1. WHAT IS THE COAL SEAM GAS INDUSTRY ?

cartoon of CSG process & participants

CSG cartoon

* See notes below about terms like the water supply, the democratic process, corporate profits & the responsibility of government, as set out in international agreements that Australia has signed.

Question: What is coal seam gas industry fracking ? One line answer: The mining companies are wanting to . . .  pump poisons into the earth in order to extract gas.            Reference: see Section 2.

The State and Federal Governments in Australia call the coal seam gas industry "mining". As shown above and in the photos below, there is a lot of "industrial" looking land use activity above the ground, as well as "mining" activity below the ground. The governments allow this industrial land use to occur not in industrial estates, like other industrial land uses, but on good agricultural and rural residential land.

They also allow the industry to use vast amounts of the nation's water resources, whilst restricting access to these water resources by farmers and gardeners.

Our valuable resources aren't coal, gas or uranium, The Great Artesian Basin is by far the greatest resource Australia has - Water is the single non-negotiable essential for life.              www.gabpg.org.au

No wonder this has become a political issue. As well known Australian business commentator Robert Gottliebsen has said in the Business Spectator:

The coal seam gas industry is going to have to get its act together, and fast, or it will not achieve anything ilke the future the share market expects . . . Attacking rural communities in Australia can backfire. . . when you have a mad scramble for resources and that scramble is taking place in farming communities, then the miners better understand that they are treading down a dangerous path.

* Australia is a party to the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992). This is a key international agreement which is currently in force.

Several Principles of this declaration directly set out the role and responsibility of governments in relation to the democratic process, control of development and use of sustainable use of resources, such as water. For example:

PRINCIPLE 4
In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.

PRINCIPLE 8
To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.

PRINCIPLE 11
States shall enact effective environmental legislation. Environmental standards, management objectives and priorities should reflect the environmental and developmental context to which they apply.

PRINCIPLE 13
States shall develop national law regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage.

PRINCIPLE 15 In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

PRINCIPLE 22
Indigenous people and their communities, and other local communities, have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognize and duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development.

2 WHAT HAS COAL SEAM GAS GOT TO DO WITH GARDEN DESIGN ?

When the govenerment allows the coal seam gas industry to dig up your property, it no longer looks like a farm, a forest or a garden. It looks like an industrial site.

There are likely to be lots of health hazards. All this lowers the value of the property. Chances are the water table will be lowered too. This is not good for gardens.

CSG exploration in World Heritage listed landscape

The mining companies are wanting to come to the pristine and sacred Tweed caldera and pump poisons into the earth in order to extract gas.                                                                  Jayavinda

Coal Seam Gas visual impact

The Tweed caldera is just one of many places where activity is occuring.

Check out the recent movie Gaslands if You have any doubts about the horrific side effects of this process, in particular the poisoning of the water systems.

 

Photo courtesy of : http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/03/hydraulic_fracturing.html

 

3 WHY JOIN THOSE CALLING FOR A MORATORIUM ON COAL SEAM GAS MINING ?

Coal seam gas mining is already getting under way in Australia without many people knowing.

public rally against Coal Seam Gas in NSWThis industry has massive effects on gardens and landscape in Australia.

The governments not requiring the mining companies to measure and prevent the adverse affects the industry  has on water, air and life support systems, above and below the surface of the earth.         

The governments are not complying with the principles of international declarations to which they are signatory. See notes above and below for more details.

Photos taken  at Murwillumbah CSG rally attended by approximately 3,000 people on 14 May 2011.

To join with others to call for government action on this matter, refer sites such as : www.sixdegrees.org.au    Coal Seam Gas resources of the public estate owned by citizenshttp://westerndowns.group-action.com/    www.actiononcoaland gas.org  http://northernriversguardians.org        or  http://www.gabpg.org.au/  which notes that: the Great Artesian Basin is being destroyed by two things.

Firstly, by the incredible wastage from the thousands of uncapped bores; but principally by the enormous water usage by the mining and coal seam gas industries, which are depleting and polluting the stressed GAB even further . . . .Our valuable resources aren't coal, gas or uranium, The Great Artesian Basin is by far the greatest resource Australia has - Water is the single non-negotiable essential for life.

4 GIVE ME THE FACTS AND FIGURES ABOUT THIS !

Extent of the industry:

There are now 1,000 gas wells across the Darling Downs but the CSG industry plans for over 40,0000 wells which threaten to contaminate and destabilise the Great Artesian Basin.

The gas will be condensed, piped to Gladstone where it will be liquefied (LNG), then exported.

Giant LNG plants are planned Abbott Point (just north of Bowen) and in Gladstone.

There are CSG exploration tenures over 50% of central Queensland and 75% of southern Queensland.

In NSW, over half of coastal northern New South Wales has similar exploration licences.

 

Coal Seam Gas Regulation in Australia:

Both Federal and State Governments have imposed a record number of environmental conditions on CSG companies. However, they allow 18 months of operations before any of these conditions are enforced.

Furthermore, regulations come into effect only after environmental damage has been done.

We've already seen this environmental regulation at work: at the Underground Coal Gasification trials near Kingaroy and Chinchilla, both trials resulted in contamination of nearby aquifers.

Early in 2010, a dam at the Xstrata mine near Rolleston burst its banks during heavy rain, contaminating the Fitzroy River catchment. Xstrata was fined just $2000.

Expert advice to the state and federal governments was against approving these projects. The federal environment minister's Water Advice Group has warned that the amount of water that the CSG industry plans to draw from the Walloon Coal Measure could not only drain bores that farmers and towns depend on but also cause land subsidence.

Some CSG companies' own environmental impact statements acknowledge that underground water systems are unlikely to recover for a thousand years give the volumes of water they intend to extract from across Queensland.

Leading soil scientists oppose both coal and CSG development on agricultural lands, warning that good quality soils can't be rehabilitated.

Reference: www.actiononcoaland gas.org

The tourism industry in Queensland provides over 100,000 jobs, whilst all mining industries in Queensland provide a total of approximately one fifth of that number of jobs.

Tourism is a long term industry that can foster sustainable management of public resources.

In comparison, although both the tourism and coal seam gas industries are likely to contribute significant revenue to the Government in the short term, coal seam gas is an extractive industry with a comparatively short life span. Once the natural resource upon which it is based is extracted, the associated revenue and employment is terminated.

Government regulations control the tourism industry in Australia but the coal seam gas industry has seriously inadequate government regulation to avoid the adverse impacts on public resources such as water quality, water quantity, soil quality, air quality, views, public health and living ecosystems.

 

5 Already got CSG companies on your property ? Negotiate for Landscape Design to help manage adverse above ground impacts.

I have researched this topic and found no publicly available material available about steps that have been taken to avoid the undesirable visual impacts of the CSG industry.

On the basis that the visual impact of CSG infrastructure on a rural, or semi rural property is similar to having other industrial infrastructure like towers, refineries and fuel storage, I have applied landscape design principles relating to such sites to compile a few examples of the many types of controls that government could apply to the CSG industry to manage this issue.

1. In open rolling, pastoral landscapes, locate structures in positions where the planting of native trees in appropriate groups can be used to screen structures so that they appear to blend with local vegetation patterns in the wider landscape.

Coal Seam Gas trees for env't & visual impact

In the example above, at a site just north of Boonah in South East Queensland, the whole group of trees in the centre of the photograph has been planted but appears to blend naturally into the wider landscape.
no screening of infrastrucutre in rural landscape


In contrast, at a nearby site shown at right, there has been no attempt by the infrastructure provider to design this building site to blend with the surrounding landscape.


2. Design roads and other infrastructure that runs in corridors through the landscape, (such electricity transmission lines), with appropriate earthworks and clumps of vegetation in key locations, so that attractive views across the rural landscape are created, rather than destroyed.

view corridors and infrastructure alignmentIn the example above, a new road and high voltage electricity lines traverse a property at Flinders View in the Scenic Rim Regional Council area of South East Queensland but adverse visual impacts are avoided.

As part of a broader landscape design approach, the route of the road is designed to enhance appreciation of view corridors across the landscape.

Regeneration of native vegetation is managed to partially screen the high voltage electricity line, whilst also enhancing the ecological value of the local waterway corridor and helping to control water quality and soil erosion.

3. Identify key, publicly accessible viewing locations for views that are valued by the local community and as part of the tourist/ recreation industry. Protect these views from adverse intrusion/ impact by the CSG industry.

Coal Seam Gas visual impactThe above example illustrates the type of view across an "unspoilt" rural landscape to recognisable peaks in the distance that is valued by the local community and the tourist/ recreation industries. This photograph shows the hinterland around the town of Boonah in the Scenic Rim Regional Council area of South East Queensland.

This view to Cunningham's Gap and Frog's Buttress is available from one of very few publicly accessible points that can be easily and safely accessed from a pull off bay along a main road in this area.
Coal Seam Gas visual impactConsider the impact that the type of CSG infrastructure depicted at left would have in this landscape.

The intrusion of "industrial" looking development associated with the CSG industry would adversely affect the value of this public resource (view) to the local tourism, real estate and recreation industries. Refer Sections 1 - 4 above for more notes about this subject.

 

 

 

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