28 July 2023

Study builds greater understanding of CSG-induced subsidence impact on farming businesses

New research into the potential impacts of coal seam gas-induced land subsidence on farming operations has today been released by the GasFields Commission Queensland.

GasFields Commission CEO Warwick Squire said the latest research assessed the potential consequence of CSG-induced subsidence to irrigated and dryland farming operations.

“Coal seam gas-induced subsidence has emerged as a significant concern of landholders in priority agricultural areas, particularly on Queensland’s Condamine Flood Plain,” Mr Squire said.

“Key to these concerns is the potential economic impact on specialised and slope dependent farming systems, and the subsequent legal protections available to these landholders should a material impact occur.

“Over the past 12 months, the Commission has worked closely with landholders, technical experts, and the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) to better understand the connection between subsidence and specialised farming techniques used in these areas and the potential for CSG-induced subsidence to impact on matters such as productivity.

“The research has found that the matter of CSG-induced subsidence and interaction with farming is a complex matter that should be dealt with on a farm-by-farm basis.

“The report outlines that due to the unique nature of farming in these areas and the low slope of the land, there may be instances where CSG-induced subsidence has a consequential impact on farming operations.

“The report also examines the types of impacts that may occur and how they could be understood and managed through emerging technologies and current techniques such as laser levelling.

“As a result of these findings, the Commission has provided a series of recommendations that provide an important conduit between further policy and legislative reform and additional scientific research being undertaken by OGIA in advancing farm scale modelling and monitoring.”

“The report recommends that as a first step, systematic assessment of farmland irregularities that have been linked to coal seam gas induced subsidence be undertaken and results be shared with landholders and communities.

“The recent Government announcement to empower OGIA to undertake this work is an important step in that direction.

“The report also acknowledges that the science base for CSG-induced subsidence is continuing to evolve and further testing of the findings of this report need to be undertaken when more detailed farm-scale monitoring and modelling is available.

“It recommends farm field scale satellite data be made available publicly and that further research is undertaken how landscape scale changes could impact overland flow.

“This research is the culmination of extensive work with landholders, peak bodies and OGIA to understand concerns around potential economic impact off the back of CSG-induced subsidence.”

Mr Squire said this latest research is another step in gaining an understanding and addressing the potential effects of CSG-induced subsidence for Queensland’s agricultural industry.

“This type of information contributes to greater shared knowledge and understanding and is critical to ensuring that best available science underpins regulatory protections.

“Importantly, several of the recommendations are already underway via the recently commenced farm scale assessment pilot project being undertaken by OGIA which was recently provided with seed funding by government as part of its response to the Commission’s CSG-induced subsidence regulatory review.

“This work represents another example of the key role the Commission plays in working with rural communities, the onshore gas sector, landholders and government to facilitate leading coexistence practices which are fair and beneficial for all parties.”

The findings are below:

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