QUEENSLAND farm lobby group, AgForce, has urged landholders to be aware of new laws taking effect in Queensland from today that reinstate community objection rights to mining projects, and allow landholders to ‘opt out’ of conduct and compensation agreements with resources companies.
AgForce resources spokesman, Wayne Newton, said the laws taking effect from today were part of a large suite of reforms developed over the past two years relating to how mining companies interacted with landholders and the community.
“Coal seam gas and resources developments are an important issue for landholders and will continue to be into the future, so we need landholders to be as informed as possible in order to protect their properties, their businesses and their livelihoods,” he said.
“Changes taking effect today include a 50 metre buffer zone around key infrastructure such as principal stockyards, bores and artesian wells, dams and artificial water storages connected to a water supply; and a 200m buffer zone around permanent buildings including places of residence.
“There is also a significant change in that landholders can now choose to sign an ‘opt out agreement’ rather than negotiate a conduct and compensation agreement (CCA) with a resource company.”
Mr Newton said while the State Government said the change was intended to ‘streamline the existing negotiation process’, AgForce strongly encouraged landholders considering an opt out agreement to ensure they were fully aware of the impact of those agreements on their rights and responsibilities.
“Landholders need to be aware opt out agreements are not mandatory, must be accompanied by a special information form, be made in the prescribed form, are subject to a 10 day cooling off period and do not negate a company’s liability to compensate an eligible claimant,” he said.
“We’d urge landholders to visit the Department of Natural Resources and Mines website to inform themselves about the changes, or alternatively contact the AgForce CSG Project team or the CSG Compliance Unit.”
The new laws also require that opt out agreements and CCAs be noted on title (similar to an easement on property title) and broaden the powers of the Land Court to determine compensation when a CCA cannot be negotiated.