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Former Linc Energy executives face charges

AAP logoAAP 13/11/2016 Stuart Layt and Jamie McKinnell

Green groups are calling for more underground coal gasification projects to be stopped after the Queensland government charged five Linc Energy executives.

The five executives will face court in Dalby later this month over the failed company's operation of an underground coal gasification site in the Darling Downs.

Former Linc chief executive Peter Bond was in September charged with three indictable offences and last week was summonsed on two additional charges of failing to ensure the company complied with the state's Environmental Protection Act.

Four other senior staff members - Donald Schofield, Stephen Dumble, Jacobus Terblanche and Darryl Rattai - were also summonsed for breaching environmental law.

The company went into voluntary administration in April and the following month it was revealed creditors were owed $289 million.

A six-year investigation of the company's Hopeland operation, near Chinchilla, by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is the largest ever undertaken by the environmental regulator.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said more charges could be laid.

Drew Hutton from the Lock the Gate Alliance, representing local residents and farmers, says the decision to charge the five executives shows the state government is serious about cracking down on environmental breaches.

However Mr Hutton said it was "common sense" that now Linc Energy has been forced to halt operations, the government should consider stopping coal seam gas operations in the area by Origin Energy.

"The whole idea that the resources industry should be allowed free rein over our beautiful agricultural areas and put at risk people's livelihoods and their health as well as our underground water systems is just a nonsense and should be stepped on right now," he told AAP.

The former Linc executives face sentences of up to five years in prison if convicted, while the company itself is also facing five environmental charges with a total maximum penalty of over $8.8 million.

The five have their cases set down for the Dalby Magistrates Court on November 29.

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