HALF-VICTORY: Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group members Damien O'Sullivan, John Dalton, Gary Tessman, and Marilyn Stephens aren't ready to celebrate their fight to preserve farming land which had been earmarked for a coal mine. (Photo: Contributed)
HALF-VICTORY: Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group members Damien O'Sullivan, John Dalton, Gary Tessman, and Marilyn Stephens aren't ready to celebrate their fight to preserve farming land which had been earmarked for a coal mine. (Photo: Contributed)

No celebrations despite victory over coal mine

KINGAROY land owners are calling for an end to a decade-long battle to protect land from miners, two months after securing a major victory.

The Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group is yet to celebrate after mining company Moreton Resources withdrew their mining lease application for an open cut coal mine on prime farmland near Kingaroy in February.

Advocacy group Lock the Gate said there was still the possibility of another mining company showing interest in the land.

KCCG member John Dalton said this is why they could not truly celebrate.

"One of the main reasons we're not too celebratory now is that any one of us thinks we could be down for another project," Mr Dalton said.

"Another company could come in and say 'we'll get this up and running'.

"In the back of our minds, we worry we might have to fight this again some day."

The group is calling for fundamental changes to Queensland's Regional Planning Interests Act, which governs land use across the state.

"I think we'll really celebrate when some wise level of government puts in this circuit breaker that stops us from being in this endless cycle of having to defend good farmland," Mr Dalton said.

Power corporation Stanwell first proposed using the agricultural land outside of Kingaroy for mining.

But Stanwell found coal closer to the Tarong Power Plant and abandoned the Kingaroy site.

Moreton Resources, formally known as Cougar Energy, then announced its intentions for an underground coal gasification plant.

The project, worth $550 million, came to a halt in 2011 when the State Government shut it down after the chemical benzene was found in nearby water bores. The company was fined $75,000.

A bauxite proposal was made before Moreton Resources returned, wanting to build a coal mine on land adjacent to the failed UCG experiment.

"I think, although we've developed a resistance to idiotic proposals, the cumulative effect of being in fight mode for so long takes its toll," Mr Dalton said.

Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group member Gary Tessman would like to see the government protect prime farming land. (Photo: Contributed)
Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group member Gary Tessman would like to see the government protect prime farming land. (Photo: Contributed)

Kingaroy dairy farmer Gary Tessmann's property borders the proposed mine site.

"What we need is a regional development plan that clearly states that some places, like prime agricultural land, are off limits to mining," he said.

Mr Tessmann said there were enough challenges in the farming game, without having to fight for the land.

"What I'd really like is if the government could stop small mining operations coming in, stirring things up with prospecting for projects that probably won't ever happen and causing the local community a lot of grief and despair," he said.

After good rain, which has eased drought pressures, combined with Moreton Resources' retreat, Mr Tessmann is hopeful of a positive future.

"At least now you feel there's a bit of closure," he said.

"It's hard to get overly excited, but yes, we are fairly happy."

South Burnett


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