Lock the Gate campaigners ready to Rock the Gate
18th April 2011 Coal Seam Gas update
The Lock the Gate campaign continues to draw national attention to the expansion of environmentally irresponsible coal seam gas mining in Queensland.
With the blockade on it's 36th day, current protestors and newcomers are looking forward to a festive break at the upcoming Rock the Gate festival, celebrating rural land, water and lifestyle.
Lock the Gate supporters will converge on the Tara Showgrounds over the long weekend of Friday April 29th to May 4th, for a national festival of music, family recreation, activist forums and workshops.
Operating from a base camp by the Queensland Gas Company's Kenya field processing plant, near the Tara rural residential estate in Queensland's south west, the Lock the Gate activists are proving successful in using human blockades to prevent the QGC from building a pipeline from CSG wells on the estate to the plant.
Arrests and police intervention have become a regular feature at the blockade, with Queensland Greens founder Drew Hutton and current Queensland Greens spokesperson Dr. Libby Connors amongst those arrested for civil disobedience.
Mr. Hutton, a veteran activist currently representing environmental group Friends of the Earth in the Lock the Gate alliance, was arrested on 29th March, despite being on a residential property at the owners invitation at the time.
Dr. Connors, a key actor in the Queensland Green's coal seam gas campaign, was also arrested with prominent environmentalist Bob Irwin last Tuesday, April 12th [pictured, right].
In both instances, the protesters were released on bail after appearing at the Chinchilla Magistrates court.
The arrests have served to highlight the political influence of mining companies comparative to residents in Queensland.
Queensland's Petroleum and Gas [Production and Safety] Act 2004 [pdf], provides authority for mining and gas company staff to access private land for mining purposes. Section 805 of the Act outlines that people should not "without reasonable excuse" obstruct a petroleum authority holder from entering land for an authorized activity: penalties may include fines of up to $50 000.
With 40,000 coal seam gas wells planned for the fertile Darling Downs region alone, the arrests have galvanized the attention of coal affected communities and environmentalists across the country, as a test of how such powers may be applied.
Although facing a long campaign, the Lock the Gate protesters at Tara have high morale and remain optimistic about the possibility of victory.
Find out more about the Rock the Gate festival on facebook.Greens CSG campaign media releases, news and policy
Action on Coal and Gas: new website of a coalition of rural and regional branches of the Queensland Greens, sharing concerns of the impact of coal and coal seam gas mining.
Recent media coverage of the Lock the Gate blockade at Tara Estate.
- Courier Mail: Greens founder arrested in coal seam gas protest
- SMH:Steve would have been proud Bob Irwin says after arrest
- ABC News: Bob Irwin arrested at gas protest
- The Chronicle: Irwin joins Tara protest Toowoomba
- SMH:Irwin, Connors arrested
- Herald Sun:Bob Irwin arrested at gas protest at the Tara estate
- The Age: Heavy hitters to stop CSG pipeline in Qld.
- Channel 10 news footage of the protest, arrest of Libby Connors and Bob Irwin and a landowner showing briefly the extent of QGC impact on his land.
- Bob Irwin talks to Channel 10 news after his arrest
- Drew Hutton speaking at the Sydney 'Can't eat Coal, Can't drink Gas' rally about the start of the blockade and the arrest of resident and great grandmother June Norman's arrest.