Bender victory in CSG battle

Arrow Energy compensates in land access battle


Agribusiness
Rumbling gas: Brian Bender, Valencia, Hopeland near Chinchilla, with a water bore in the process of being decommissioned. Picture: Helen Walker

Rumbling gas: Brian Bender, Valencia, Hopeland near Chinchilla, with a water bore in the process of being decommissioned. Picture: Helen Walker

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Brian Bender remains stoic in the fight to protect his land and water against CSG giants.

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Hopeland farmer Brian Bender remains stoic in the fight to protect his land from coal seam gas companies. 

Arrow Energy and Mr Bender came to blows after what was a major breach of biosecurity access conditions which took place on his family property Valencia, near Chinchilla.

He decided to act upon his make good agreement with Arrow Energy to decommission three bores that provide stock water on his property.

“Arrow Energy is the responsible tenure holder and hold the make good agreement for problems caused to bores in close proximity of the coal seam gas wells,” Mr Bender said.

The Benders do not have CSG wells, but their agreement with Arrow Energy involves two bores with rumbling gas, which emit noise and odour. Arrow Energy agreed to accept the plug and abandonment work on the bores as part of the make good agreement.

His access conditions firmly state that a valid third party weed and seed certificate was required for all vehicles and equipment entering the property, and they remain on site for the duration of the activity.

However when the machinery and equipment arrived on-farm on August 22, the truck was a contaminated vehicle, even though it was accompanied by a vehicle and machinery hygiene inspection certificate dated, August, 21. 

“Among the dirt, mud, grime and seed pods, was a disused pair of dirty sunglasses sitting under the trailer of  the truck,” Mr Bender said. 

“Due to Arrow Energy workers and contractors breaking our land access rules a number of times, they were asked to leave the property, and leave all machinery on the property,” he said.

“Arrow Energy had accused us of holding out – but this is all about our rights,” Mr Bender said.

Following mediation with Arrow Energy on Tuesday afternoon Mr Bender was pleased with the outcome.

“The work will re-commence as soon as a work team is available,” he said. 

Mr Bender said Arrow Energy admitted that the truck was dirty and they had broken his land access agreement. 

“As well, they have offered a land management fee as compensation, some of which we will donate to Drought Angels,” he said.

Lee McNicholl, chairman of the Basin Sustainability Alliance, said Brian Bender’s dogged determination in enforcing the biosecurity provisions of his access agreement with Arrow Energy, should be congratulated. 

“Dodgy weed and seed washdown certifications are an ongoing flash point between all the CSG proponents and landholders.”

Arrow Energy was contacted for comment but declined to respond prior to deadline. 

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