Competing land use issues between mining and farming have been dominating the attentions of rural industry groups across three States in recent weeks.
In Queensland, the Palaszczuk Labor Government last week introduced new legislation to restore the right of landholders and communities to object to mining projects which have been classified as “coordinated projects”.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the previous Newman LNP Government passed laws preventing people from objecting to the Land Court granting an environmental authority for a proposed mining activity if the Coordinator-General had previously assessed the activity. The Coodinator General assesses most major mine projects in Queensland.
Mr Lynham said new amendments introduced to Parliament will repeal those laws and restore objection rights before the LNP’s laws have any practical effect. No project has proceeded under the LNP’s laws.
“In Opposition, Labor opposed these rights being stripped away because they balanced the rights of would-be miners, landholders and the community,” Mr Lynham said. “The LNP deserted rural landholders.”
In New South Wales, NSW Farmers is calling on all Australians to sign an online open letter protesting the Federal Government’s approval of the Shenhua Watermark coal project in the prime agricultural land area of the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales.
Newly elected NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen said the project would “pierce a hole in the heart” of Australian agriculture.
“If mining on the Liverpool Plains can happen here, it can happen anywhere and that’s why we need all Australians to get behind us and add their voice to ensure this mine does not proceed,” Mr Schoen said.
The Shenua Watermark project still requires a mining lease to be granted by the NSW resources minister before it can proceed, and NSW Farmers is rallying to convince the NSW minister not to proceed.
“Farmers and community members are urged to support us in our battle against this approval by filling in an open letter to the minister urging him not to grant a mining lease to Shenhua on the following basis: the project poses unacceptable risks to the region’s crucial water resources; the project is not in the public interest, and the Minister has not sufficiently considered the fit and proper requirements of the legislation; and the project is not economically feasible.”
A link to the NSW Farmers letter can be found here: http://www.standupforfarmers.com.au/open-letter/index.php
In Victoria, early results from a survey of Victorian Farmers Federation members has shown that the greatest fear farmers have surrounding onshore gas drilling is the potential for groundwater contamination to occur.
The online survey has been running for a week and is canvassing VFF members to assess gaps in their knowledge about rights and compensation arrangements, and also to ascertain their greatest concerns in regard to onshore exploration, extraction and existing regulation.
So far 162 people have completed the survey and of that number, 60pc were not aware of the compensation arrangements that can apply to farmers when approached by mining and onshore gas companies for exploration on their land.
The majority of respondents so far have also supported the VFF’s policy position of extending the current moratorium on onshore gas exploration and extraction until 2020.
“But respondents were split on implementing a total ban,” VFF Land Management Chair Gerald Leach said. “The overwhelming message from membership is that members do not yet have enough information to support a permanent ban or lifting of the moratorium.”
Mr Leach said the VFF had seen the full spectrum of responses from those declaring onshore gas and agriculture can never co-exist to those condemning the VFF’s stance on a moratorium and warning it will lead to a massive hike in gas prices.
The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Onshoregas
The VFF will be holding Member Forums on onshore sas on August 19 in Warrnambool and August 20 in Sale. Speakers include Monash University senior lecturer in environmental engineering Gavin Mudd and Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Chief Technical Officer Rick Wilkinson.