Farmer groups secure CSG land access principles

NSW Farmers, Cotton Australia and NSW Irrigators Council today signed an important agreement to secure additional landholder rights with two of the state’s major gas companies - AGL and Santos.

The agreement with AGL and Santos means the companies will have to respect a private agricultural landholder’s right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to 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. 

NSW Farmers’ Conservation Resource Management Chair Mitchell Clapham said: “This is a significant win for our farming families. We had been told by many companies for a number of years that this is how they operate, but we asked them to put in writing.”

“After much negotiation and hard work on the part of the three farming representative groups in NSW, I am very pleased that we can sign an agreement today.

“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.

“We strongly encourage other CSG operators in NSW to show their commitment and sign up to this agreement.”

NSW Irrigators Council Economic Policy Analyst Stefanie Schulte said today’s signing was an important milestone for future engagement between gas companies and private agricultural landholders.

“Giving landholders the choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and having this choice respected is something we have worked hard to achieve.”

Cotton Australia’s CEO Adam Kay said: “This is great news for cotton growers in NSW because it protects their property rights.”

NSW Farmers, NSWIC and Cotton Australia will continue to advocate strongly for the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’  to operations to be enshrined in legislation.

All three farming groups will also continue to advocate for independent and robust science and baseline and ongoing water monitoring on the affects of CSG drilling and extraction on agricultural land.

The groups will also continue to advocate for a more rigorous process by which approvals are made for CSG exploration and drilling.

Mr Clapham concluded: “Farming groups have always had consistent policy on this issue. We are not against the industry but landholder rights must be respected and today is a big step in the right direction for the future of our farming families.”

“We will not tolerate impacts on agricultural land and water but we will continue to work constructively with government in order to get outcomes which protect our farming families interests.”


 

28 March 2014 

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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