Miners on the march
WHILE a decision is being reached within the walls of State Government over mining permits on the western rim of Warwick, talk is mounting in the local area about what the future holds for landowners.
Ambre Energy applied to the Bligh government on August 29 last year for coal exploration permit EPC2784, which includes the Pratten district.
Business Development Manager Matthew Adams said if granted, the permit would allow Ambre to see if there was coal in the area and if so, whether it was minable.
He assured residents the mining company would not be drilling near residential areas.
"There is coal all through this area, it's called the Clarence Moreton Basin and stretches into northern New South Wales," he said.
"It's important to remember that holding an exploration permit does not give resource companies permission to mine a particular area.
"It only allows a resource company to explore an area to see if a resource exists."
He said factors which influenced whether Ambre would mine might be it's depth or whether it was on a flood plane.
He reassured Ambre Energy's policy of working with landowners throughout the process.
"Ambre Energy negotiates land access agreements and compensation before entering any property," he said.
"From time to time we contact farmers (before a permit is granted) to see if we can get permission on someone's land to drill. It's non-invasive and if the farmer says no we say 'fine, we can go somewhere else'."
This news was of no comfort to Pratten resident of nearly 20 years, Bevan Springate.
While Mr Springate said he could see the benefits of the industry - with many of his family members working in mining - he wouldn't like to see it on his doorstep.
"My brother and mum are operators and my dad was a mechanic in the mines, up near Mackay and mid-Queensland," he said.
"I have about 800 acres and I wouldn't like to see (coal mining) on my land - it's sacred to me.
"I think most people in Pratten would feel the same, most wouldn't be happy about it."
He said even if the permit to explore was granted, he doubted whether Ambre Energy would find any coal.
Mr Springate said he had heard about mining permits in the local Pratten Post, but felt not all in the community were aware of it.
Fellow resident Dulcie Weir was one of those people, and she said she wasn't happy about it.
"I did know it was gradually coming this way but I heard something like they mightn't be able to come as far as Pratten," she said.
"You work tireless hours to own what you've got and they come along and say you don't own it and can override you. It's not right."
The Friends of Felton group, which is rallying to protect the region's agricultural land from mining, is holding a meeting tonight to discuss the mining situation in the area, including Nobby, Back Plains and Mt Molar.
Friends of Felton secretary Hugh Reardon-Smith said the group was prompted to hold the meeting following reports Ambre Energy had approached landholders west of Warwick for permission to put down exploration holes.
The meeting is at 7pm tonight at the Back Plains Hall.
Friends of Felton president Ian Whan said it had come as "a bit of a shock" to landowners when contacted by Ambre Energy.
"But we've been fighting mining threats for four years so we've got a pretty good handle," he said.
Although the State Government lays claim to all natural resources, owners do have bargaining rights when a permit is granted over their land.
Under the new land laws, which came into effect on October 29 last year, a resource company must consult owners in regards to compensation.
Visit the Friends of Felton at www.fof.org.au