Marissa Calligeros, Brisbane Times
Three shots have reportedly been fired at the site of a coal seam gas protest in Queensland.
More than 40 protesters from the community group Stop CSG Tara have manned a number of blockades around Queensland Gas Company’s Kenya Station, near the town of Tara on the western Darling Downs, since Monday.
Stop CSG Tara president Dayne Pratzky said shots rang out across one protest site on the main road heading into the Kumbarilla State Forest on Thursday morning, sending demonstrators ducking for cover.
“It was unbelievable. One minute we’re standing around blockading QGC’s machinery and the next minute we’re lying face down in the dirt wondering who’s shooting at us,” he said.
“I’ve got no idea who fired the shots, but it was very scary.”
He believes the shots weren’t fired at protesters but into the air.
No one was injured at the scene.
Police could not confirm reports of the shots, but officers at the scene have ordered protesters to leave the site.
However, Mr Pratzky said protesters would not back down.
“The Queensland government needs to get out of bed with QGC and intervene with decent regulations in order to protect the community from this rampaging industry,” he said.
Tensions have been escalating since local protesters manned blockades around the Kenya field on Monday, stopping workers leaving their camp or a worksite.
On Tuesday, a protester became involved in a scuffle with a QGC contractor at the site’s main gates.
Mr Pratzky claimed the gas worker took offence to the blockade and tried to slash the tyres of their vehicle.
A complaint was lodged with Chinchilla police, Mr Pratzky said.
Three coal seam gas fields named Lauren, Codie and Kate are associated with the Kenya field, which occupies land between Tara, Chinchilla and Dalby.
The British-owned Queensland Gas, which is leading the race to extract coal seam gas out of southwest Queensland, has plans to construct an “infrastructure corridor” through parts of rural residential estates in Tara.
However, residents believe CSG mining in the area is contaminating the air and poisoning potable ground water.
They have reported nose bleeds, chronic headaches, nausea and rashes among children and adults living in the Tara residential estate.
Claims environment officers were pressured into approving CSG projects have also inflamed the debate.
Former Queensland government bureaucrat Simone Marsh recently told ABC’s Four Corners program that the state’s former Labor government approved CSG projects without sufficient information.