Lock the gate 'war' spreading
THE Central Highlands has become a battleground for farmers fighting a giant coal mine proposal under their land.
A huge tract of the farmers' land was deemed by the State Government to be part of a “protected area” of the State's best cropping land.
The Golden Triangle Action group for months has been hoping a proposed strategic cropping land (SCL) policy would stop the Bandanna Energy's Springsure Creek project from going ahead.
The policy was designed to protect the State's best farm lands, but the mine's plan was accepted after an administrative approval deadline by the State.
More than 80 farmers in the Springsure, Rolleston and Emerald ‘Golden Triangle' area have been fighting to protect the land.
Gindie grain farmer Andrew Bate is one of those who could be affected by the underground coal mine.
He said yesterday he was furious, declaring “war” against the mining company, and proposing joining the growing ‘lock the gate' campaign against resource companies in Queensland.
Mr Bate said landholders were fed up with the State Government, asking whether it had the “political will” to ensure the mine would not go ahead.
He said: “The State has said they are doing all they can, but three days after the deadline for this project to reach its terms of reference approval, the government approved it.”
Minister Rachel Nolan said the policy provided “more certainty for rural communities and landholders than ever before”.
She said: “There will always be difficult circumstances which have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Mr Bate said: “We know something has to be done about this – and we have the community support.
“People keep pulling me aside on the street and telling me ... that we are doing the right thing trying to stop this mine go ahead.
“This will be a test case for the nation, to find out what “special considerations mean – this is the final straw.”
Bandanna Energy would not comment.