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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
by Elfian Schieren, 2012

1. Introduction
2. Energy and coal seam gas development
2.1 Economic viability underpinning coal seam gas development
2.2 Renewable, sustainable energy development
- Solar
- Wind
- Biogas
2.3 Coal seam gas development at a global scale
2.4 Coal seam gas development in Australia
3 Coal seam gas extraction process
- Drilling and dewatering
- Hydraulic Fracturing
- Produced Water
4 Risks to water resources from coal seam gas development
4.4 Ground water use
4.5 Water produced by coal seam gas
4.6 Contamination of Groundwater
5 Other Consequences of coal seam gas development
5.4 Impacts to agricultural production
5.5 Health impacts on humans and animals
5.6 Impacts on greenhouse gas emissions
5.7 Impacts on seismic activity
5.8 Economic impacts
5.9 Cumulative impacts
6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
6.1 Northern Rivers Region
6.2 Using trade-offs and opportunity costs in evaluating CSG development
6.3 Prospects for development in Northern Rivers region
6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region
6.5 Northern Rivers community actions and groups in response to CSG development
7 Discussion
8 Conclusion
9 References

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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales

Integrated Project by Elfian Schieren, 2012

5. Other consequences of coal seam gas development

Along with potential impacts to water resources coal seam gas development can also create risks to agricultural lands, public and animal health and seismic stability.

5.1 Impacts to agricultural production

Water underpins all agricultural production and is likely the major concern in possible CSG impacts to farming.

However, CSG infrastructure can also use up large areas of land despite claims to be minimal in its surface impact.

Figure 4 shows an aerial view of CSG development in Chinchilla revealing the vast network of roads and well sites. There are two kinds of wells, exploration and production wells.

Exploration wells are generally spaced one well per 30 to 60 km2 and production wells are typically spaced 600m – 1200m or more (Queensland Government, 2011).

Each well is surrounded by a 75 x 75m up to one hectare clearing to allow for the movement of drilling vehicles and for protection from possible bush or grass fires. Sites may also be fenced for safety and as a barrier to livestock (APPEA, 2012).

This means that for every square kilometre of land or 100ha property there is a possibility for 5 well sites equalling 28125m2 up to approximately five hectares plus road surface area, that may be unavailable for agriculture during the life of the well and for sometime after the well has been abandoned.

One NSW standard for rural collector roads describing non arterial roads that collect and distribute traffic in an area as well as abutting property calls for a 23m wide road reserve (Young Shire Council, 2010).

Based on these dimensions it can be estimated that for approximately 6km of road accessing five wells sites on a 100ha property there may be 150 000m2 of exposed road surface on top of well site areas.

Exposed soil is vulnerable to erosion (Morgan, 1995) and the CSG network of roads combined with well sites creates a considerable area of erodible soil.

There is also a possibility that CSG development can disturb contaminated land causing potential environmental damage from the mobilisation of contaminants (Arrow Energy, 2012).

Anecdotal evidence suggests other types of disturbance may be caused by CSG development on farmland.

One QLD farmer has now chained and padlocked his gate to the mining company working on his land after he found several of his heifers choking on plastic rubbish left by the company.

The farmer has reported major interruptions to usual livestock and farm operations because of the pipeline and gates left open by subcontractors.

They have also found and had to remove used toilet paper and faeces from their paddocks left by the subcontract workers (Rowling, 2012a).

Another QLD farmer is risking her entire farming future by selling her breed stock to raise money to sue the mining company on her land for breach of contract.

She has been unable to earn her income caused by inaccessibility from the pipeline dividing her land in half and believes she has not been properly compensated (Rowling, 2012b).

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