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Proposed legislation poses risk to Queensland farmers

Strong concerns have been expressed about some of the provisions in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 put to state parliament by Hon Andrew Cripps Minister for Natural Resources and Mines on 5 June.

The Bill proposes to replace five existing pieces of legislation (which govern the energy and resources sector) with a single, common resource Act but contains some very concerning proposals for landowners already seriously troubled by the proliferation of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining on their land.

Concerns include changes to the definition of restricted land which will seriously erode the protections currently offered to landholders.  At the moment a mining lease cannot be granted without the consent of a landholder over that part of their land that is within 100m of their house and sheds or 50 metres of their dams, bores, water troughs and stock yards.

Under the proposed legislation only owner of land the subject of the proposed mining lease; or an owner of land necessary for access to land the subject of the proposed mining lease; or the relevant local government will be able to object to the granting of a mining lease

This means neighbours and other concerned citizens will not be able to lodge objections to the granting of a mining lease even if they are the one most affected.

A recent statement from The Downs Presbytery of the Uniting Church in Australia called for a moratorium on further issue of any Coal Seam Gas (CSG) exploration permits and production licences in response to concern about the rapid expansion of the CSG industry in their region.

In a letter to www.beefcentral.com Toowoomba based Senior Associate with Shine Lawyers Glen Martin says the Bill also proposes to legislate by regulation leaving many crucial matters to be provided for in a regulation not in the legislation itself.

“The regulations have not yet been made and such a process is in our view highly undesirable,” Mr Martin said. “It leaves many extremely important issues to be decided by a process far less satisfactory than through our parliament.”

The Bill will be the subject of an inquiry by the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee and submissions to this inquiry are due by Wednesday, 9 July 2014.

A policy briefing on the Bill by officers of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines will be held tomorrow afternoon (25 June) at Parliament House and can be watched as a live broadcast.

Mr Martin has urged all landholders to make submissions and voice their concerns on the Bill by that date.

“If they do not we fear the consequences now and in the land term for many could be dire,” he warned.

Photo source Lock the Gate Alliance

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