WA farmers back new land access negotiation framework

November 6th, 2015

West Australian farmers have thrown their weight behind a new framework to enhance landholder confidence in the process of negotiating land access with resource companies.

The key element of the package is a template agreement, covering all the key areas relevant to most situations – minimising one of the primary fears of farmers, that they will be unaware of aspects which need to be covered in a satisfactory agreement

The package was announced by the WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Marmion, in conjunction with representatives of the oil and gas sector, farmers and vegetable growers.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), WAFarmers, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA and vegetablesWA recognised the need to develop a template for land owners which encouraged mutually beneficial terms for access allowing resource companies to explore and develop  onshore oil and gas.

Mr Marmion said the template provided certainty to land-holders and petroleum explorers, ensuring that land access arrangements could be negotiated in a fair and equitable manner.

“The agreement will assist the development of the onshore gas industry, which with estimated shale reserves of over 288 trillion cubic feet, is vital for the State’s economic growth and energy security,” he said.

Land access agreements are required in WA and other States and Territories before resource development can occur.  Underground resources belong to the people, but landholders are entitled to negotiate ‘compensation’  for hosting facilities.  States collect royalty payments on behalf of citizens as the developers extract the resource, often from kilometres underground.   Hundreds of millions of dollars are paid by resource companies to landholders and State Governments every year for onshore resource extraction – money which can then be channelled into roads, hospitals and schools.

WA Farmers President Dale Park described the template as an “important resource which will be of significant benefit”  to farmers.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association President Tony Seabrook described it as a “positive step in protecting the rights of landholders “.

This agreement shows that it is possible for industry and landholders to work together to ensure a positive outcome for all parties.

The template land access agreement sets out key themes for consideration including:

  • Operator and landowner commitments to one another,
  • The right of the landowner to inspect the operations being carried out on their land,
  • Notification periods for entering the property,
  • Compensation,
  • Rehbailitation, and
  • Dispute resolution

The land access agreement is coexistence in action and is a positive and respectful step forward for ongoing fair land access in WA.

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