The local residents of Tara (a small Queensland town which lies approximately 300km west of the state capital, Brisbane) have been locking horns with British Gas (aka QCG) attempting to build a pipeline onto a residential estate. Most recently it played host to the 'Rock the Gate' festival showcasing issues surrounding CSG mining and an opportunity to see first hand the devastation caused by British Gas.
With the number of coal seam gas wells in the region predicted to peak at 40,000, land owners are understandably anxious. Firstly from an economic standpoint, their properties become unsaleable and compensation is minimal. Moreover, there is the issue of potential environmental impacts; specifically in regards to the estimated 280,000 million litres of salt water being brought to the surface on an annual basis. However of greatest concern is the fact that there is currently no research being undertaken on the cumulative affects of these major projects and the consequent effects on the Great Artesian Basin, the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world and only reliable source of fresh water for much of inland Australia.
To add insult to injury, the current legislation is slanted heavily in favour of the gas companies making it incredibly difficult for anyone to effectively fight back. Many residents have been battling for years without any real success. They justifiably feel disenfranchised, calling the system "corrupt to the core", and until recently the local Police were effectively operating as a security arm of British Gas.
In lieu of their growing frustration, farmers, landholders and local residents have organised numerous protest blockades in an effort to resist the encroachment of coal and gas mining companies on their land. This has led to multiple arrests including that of 70 y.o. great-grandmother June Norman while she was blocking a large bulldozer along with social activist and founder of the Greens Party, Drew Hutton (both were exonerated by The Magistrates Court in Chinchilla).
Within weeks, conservationist Bob Irwin was arrested and charged with contravening a police direction.
"It's really, really sad that the average Aussie - and I'm just an average Aussie bloke that obeys the law and does all the right things most of the time - it's sad that we've got to get to this stage to actually make a point," he said.
The campaign by Tara residents and their supporters is being praised as a model of non-cooperation that other communities threatened by coal and coal seam gas should follow.