Cotter to head gas group

GOOMERI beef producer John Cotter has been appointed chairman of the Surat Basin Engagement Group.

The SBEG was put together by Premier Anna Bligh to help ease tensions between farmers and companies exploring for coal seam gas in the Surat Basin.

Mr Cotter, the former AgForce president, will head up a group of 22 people which will include community and industry representatives, mining executives, state directors-general, mayors and the water commissioner.

The aim of the group is to find a way through the current gas exploration problems.

Mr Cotter said there had never been a group of high-level people from such a broad range of industry, government and community interests.

“The investment in CSG will be worth billions but the billions cannot come at the expense of other valuable industries,” Mr Cotter said.

“It cannot come at a great cost to the rural landscape.

“Water will be the key issue and its many numerous aspects.

“We must fully understand the impact of the gas industry on aquifers and surface water and the problems of water disposal.

“The solutions must come from a scientific process that gives weight to all.

“I will be an independent chairman. There will be nowhere for participants to hide.

“The answers will have to be found from within our group.”

The group has three months to form and determine the questions it needs to answer.

Decisions will roll out over the subsequent year.

Gympie Times


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