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Queensland Premier Steven Miles has been urged to ban Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects to protect the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) by a group of united conservationists, local councils and leaders from the state’s agriculture industry. 

The groups fear the projects would be a risk to the Great Artesian Basin, which is the underground water resource and lifeblood for much of Queensland beyond the Great Dividing Range.

The delegation, including the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), Queensland Conservation Council, regional mayors and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) have been united in their call to reject a proposed CCS project planned for the Great Artesian Basin and for regulations to be put in place to stop future CCS proposals into water aquifers so much of Queensland relies on. 

One current proposal from the Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation (CTSCo) would see carbon dioxide captured from Milmerran Power Station injected into the Great Artesian Basin near Moonie.

LGAQ CEO, Alison Smith, said that Queensland councils were calling on the State Government to halt plans to pump carbon into the underground Great Artesian Basin, warning of fears it could contaminate domestic water and other supplies.

“Due to a significant proportion of Queensland relying on water resources from the Great Artesian Basin, communities have concerns regarding the proposed project, particularly for those communities which rely on the GAB for potable water supply,” Ms Smith said.

“As such, councils want the Federal and State Government to adopt a precautionary approach and not allow carbon capture and storage projects to be approved in the Great Artesian Basin.

“This is of particular importance as several regional council organisations use GAB bores for their potable water source.”

QFF CEO, Jo Sheppard, said that the GAB was one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world generating approximately $13 billion in value to the national economy every year, providing a vital resource for 180,000 people, 7,600 businesses and 120 towns.  

“This decision is critical for industry, for communities, and for future generations to come and QFF calls on the Queensland Government to reject this project and protect water aquifers in the GAB from future CCS proposals,” Ms Sheppard said. 

“In 30 years of industry development and advocacy work, I have never seen community and industry so unified and come together like they have on this issue. The concern and opposition is overwhelming.”  

Queensland Conservation Council director, Dave Copeman, said that the Great Artesian Basin was vital for the plants, animals and communities of regional Queensland. 

“The Basin is a vital water supply for graziers and local communities, one of the largest groundwater systems in the world and the lifeblood of most of the rivers of inland Australia,” Mr Copeman said.

Mayors from across Queensland – including those joining the delegation to the Premier – have warned not enough is known about the impacts of carbon capture and potential knock-on disturbance and contamination of the Great Artesian Basin is too great a risk for the communities, towns and industries that rely on it.

Councils at the most recent LGAQ annual conference voted unanimously to call on the State Government not to approve CCS technology on the Great Artesian Basin and ask the state and federal governments to work together to protect what is the only reliable source of fresh water for much of inland Australia.

Blackall-Tambo Regional Council Mayor, Andrew Martin, said that the Great Artesian Basin sustained life across a vast amount of Queensland and urged the government to adopt the ‘precautionary principle’ and protect it.

“More than 90 per cent of us drink it direct from the tap, we use it for every other domestic purpose you can name, not to mention the commercial usage across every enterprise we have,” Mayor Martin said.

“On top of that and just as importantly, the environmental diversity supported through the natural artesian basin springs across the entirety of the basin could well be endangered.

“This hitherto Australian untested potential technological disaster must be stopped right now.”

Murweh Shire Council Mayor, Shaun (Zoro) Radnedge, said the community could not risk the Great Artesian Basin.

“We have just come from ten long years of drought; we know the value of the Great Artesian Basin as without it our communities would not have survived.”  Mayor Radnedge said.

“If this project was proposed for underneath the Great Barrier Reef would we be considering this?”

Banana Shire Council Mayor, Nev Ferrier, said that damaging the Great Artesian Basin could be a bigger catastrophe than destroying the Great Barrier Reef.

“You can’t put the bullet back in the gun once you pull the trigger.”

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