Improvements to CSG and mining laws

Amendments to the petroleum onshore and mining acts tabled in the NSW Upper House this week are an improvement on the current regulatory framework for farmers and landowners, NSW Farmers said today.

Debate on the amendments, which will make changes to both the acts that govern coal seam gas and mining activity in NSW, has been adjourned until early 2014.

NSW Farmers President Fiona Simson said the amendments contained the right for a landholder to have legal representation during an arbitration hearing for land access.

“If the amendments in relation to legal representation are passed, this will be a win for farmers and landowners in a complex system where landholder rights are neither well-known nor utilised,” she said.
“There are also provisions that broaden the circumstances in which titleholders are to pay the landholders reasonable legal costs.”

This week, the NSW Government also released a Code of Practice for Land Access for public consultation until 16 December. The code will form part of any access agreement to private land for CSG.

Ms Simson said she was pleased the government had agreed to make the code available for public consultation.

“The introduction of the code is at the centre of changes to the law around CSG operations and is a welcome development,” she said.

It contains mandatory provisions on company behaviour on private land and addresses bio-security concerns and requirements for gas companies to provide the landholder with scientific testing results.

Ms Simon said farmers were concerned about the impacts of the CSG industry and without sound science and water data it was impossible to have an informed debate. 

“The code goes some way towards addressing this issue because it requires titleholders to provide landholders with all monitoring and testing data in relation to water,” she said.

NSW Farmers has made it clear that it is still concerned about a number of issues including landowner’s liability in the case of un-notified access.

Ms Simson said she was also seeking clarification on how the permits for environmental assessments operate in practice to ensure landholder rights are maintained.

“Landholders should also be entitled to recover reasonable legal fees incurred at arbitration and we will continue to advocate for such changes,” she said.

“We aren’t against CSG or mining activity but these industries must be developed in a rigorous framework and not at the expense of our agricultural land.”

Landholders interested in having their say on the code should visit the Have Your Say website:

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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