Agreement a CSG win

The Land Column

Agreement a CSG win

By Mitchell Clapham, NSW Farmers' Conservation and Resource Management Committee Chair

Currently in NSW, there is no direct legislative right for a farmer or landholder to deny a CSG operator or miner from accessing their land to undertake certain licensed extractive activities. The law states the operator must have an access agreement with the landholder, but the legislation is designed to trigger points to move the agreement forward. The company must compensate the landholder, but ultimately the landholders lack of say in what happens on their own property has been a huge concern for both the NSW Farmers’ members and rural communities. 

With this in mind NSW Farmers, Cotton Australia and NSW Irrigators Council signed an important agreement to secure additional landholder rights with two of the state’s major gas companies - AGL and Santos. The agreement means CSG companies will respect a farmer’s right to accept or deny coal seam gas drilling operations on their land.  It also means these companies will not take farmers to arbitration in order to gain property access. It is the first of its kind and NSW Farmers is optimistic about the implications it has for the future of regional communities. 
 
Landholder rights are part of complex issues associated with mining and CSG. NSW Farmers continues to advocate for world class science when it comes to mining and gas. This includes appropriate baseline data collection, ongoing water monitoring and the application of the precautionary principle so that mining and gas can never place our agricultural land and water and livelihoods at risk. We are also lobbying for improvements to the Strategic Regional Land Use policy announced in 2012 especially strengthening the Gateway process so it stops inappropriate development. 
 
The agreement is a major win for rural NSW. Although some companies have said this is how they operate, NSW Farmers is pleased it is now in writing and paving the way for other companies to come on board. NSW Farmers, NSW Irrigators Council and Cotton Australia will continue to advocate for the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’  to operations to be enshrined in legislation.
 
We congratulate Santos and AGL on their willingness to take a leadership role within their industry in Australia and recognise that respecting landholder rights is a cornerstone of any social licence when it comes to working with farming families and rural and regional communities.

Published 3 April 2014

Contact: Danica Leys

Phone: 1300 794 000

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