The abandoned Linc Energy Site.
The abandoned Linc Energy Site. Jim Campbell

Clean-up of contaminated UCG site will cost $30m

TAXPAYERS will fork out more than $30 million to clean up the contaminated Linc Energy site west of Toowoomba, based on the latest figures in the State Budget.

The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and the Department of Environment and Science will spend a combined $30.5m, according to statements on expenses and capital spending in the budget papers.

More than half of this ($16.2 million) will be spent in the next financial year to rehabilitate the site as part of the Abandoned Mine Lands program.

"The Government is providing increased funding of $17.6 million over four years ($19.4 million over five years) to continue the management and remediation of the former Linc Energy underground coal gasification site," the papers read.

"The Government is providing increased funding of $8.9 million over two years to support environmental monitoring of land impacted by underground coal gasification by-products; and the ongoing prosecution of Linc Energy and its former directors for alleged serious environmental harm."

Tenders went out in February for contractors to plug and abandon the wells at the Hopeland site.

Former head of Linc Energy Peter Bond was charged in late 2018 with two counts of wilfully contravening the environmental protection order was issued in 2016.

Environmental activist group Lock the Gate Alliance has reacted angrily to the news of the expected expenditure, arguing residents shouldn't have to foot the bill.

"On top of the human costs already felt by the community at Hopeland, we are now being forced to pay for remediation," spokeswoman Ellie Smith said in a statement.

"Linc Energy is ultimately responsible for this disaster and should continue to be pursued. This highlights the importance of governemnts taking adequate financial assurance up front.

"We have lost valuable agricultural land due to these mistakes."

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