Fracking for Gas Destroys Farmland
15 March 2023
Some years ago, I was a farmer in New Zealand. I met a cashed-up American who was in NZ trying to buy farmland. I asked him why he was NZ rather than Australia. He said, ‘Australia is fuc*ed , mate. The governments have let them frack it all, and soon they won’t be able to farm’.
He was from the US and had seen it happen there. The problem is that politicians are mostly lawyers and accountants and do not know what they do not know. Perhaps they are easily conned by lobbyists in suits. The fact is that the surface of the earth is like a layered cake with rock strata that stop water simply going to the lowest level. If an underlying impermeable level is broken, the water which may have been kept in the overlying soil drains to a deeper level. So big mines or fracking, which means fracturing and cracking the stratum, allows gas to be released upwards, but also allows the water to flow downwards. This leaves the topsoil without water, which eventually will turn it to sand as the organic matter dies.
The nett effect is that the gas is released once, but the water escapes forever. The gas company makes its money and moves on- the yield of the land is forever damaged. The farmer is the first economic casualty, national production notices it more slowly. The chemicals used in fracking also pollute the groundwater, so bores used for stock produce undrinkable water. There is no method for removing these chemicals from the groundwater.
The advocacy group, ‘Lock the Gate’, are doing their best but are still losing the political battle and the gas companies are still expanding activities. Some of the best agricultural land is the Darling Downs in Queensland and the Liverpool Plains in NSW, which are both under threat. What is also likely to happen is that they will frack near the Great Artesian Basin, which is a huge water body under a third of Australia. It is currently unpolluted by fracking chemicals, but if it becomes polluted, which seems inevitable, there will no usable water in huge areas of arid Australia. It will be a national ecological disaster.
The words of the American entrepreneur are ringing in my ears.