Gas exploration will hurt farm values, says campaigner
Farmers should be concerned about the decreased value of their farms if coal seam gas exploration went ahead in the Waimea Valley, an environment campaigner said yesterday.
Australian environment campaigner Drew Hutton was in Gore last night, talking to people about the Government's planned exploration of coal seam gas.
Speaking before the meeting, he said coal seam gas would absolutely decrease property value.
Gas exploration had affected properties in Queensland, Australia, over an area 250km wide.
"Not one property with gas has sold in the past two years," Mr Hutton said.
Hundreds of holes could be drilled on farmers' properties in the search for traces of coal seam gas, which could have an impact on farmers, he said.
"I want farmers to lock the gate and refuse access until it can be proven to be safe," Mr Hutton said.
Farms, water resources and culturally significant areas needed to be protected, he said.
It was up to New Zealand to develop a good strategy to deal with the proposed exploration of coal seam gas.
"We are putting enormous pressure on the government in Australia," he said.
New Zealand should not model its mining operations on what was happening in Australia.
In Australia a big problem with mining exploration was water.
If coal seam gas exploration were to take place in areas where the water systems were vulnerable then it could have a negative impact on water supplies, Mr Hutton said. Fracking was a popular topic at the moment.
"‘About 40 per cent of wells are fracked, but even when fracking doesn't occur there can still be problems."
Fracking caused massive pressure in the ground to blow apart the coal seams, he said.
Mr Hutton has been on a nationwide speaking tour sharing his experience of working with farmers threatened by coal seam gas and underground coal gasification in Queensland.
The Government has opened an area of land in Southland for oil and gas exploration.
The Waimea Valley Tender Block covers 1214 square kilometres of Northern Southland. Bids for oil and gas exploration permits in the area close mid- October, with an announcement on successful bids due in mid-December.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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