Farmers win reprieve on coal seam gas

ScreenHunter_1850 Mar. 28 10.32

By Leith van Onselen

Last year’s 60 Minutes investigation into coal seam gas (CSG) provided an eye-opening account of Australian farmers being forced to allow CSG mining on their land against their will.

Today, The Australian reports that Santos and AGL Energy will pledge to the New South Wales Government that they will not enter farmland if they are not warranted, in what is viewed as a major win to farmers and the ani-CSG lobby:

Under agreed principles of land access, seen by The Australian, the two biggest CSG proponents in NSW are preparing to give up their right to take to court landholders who do not want them on their land…

The signing away of the option to take landholders to court, a last resort to access land that can be used as a bargaining tool in negotiations, has split members of the usually united Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association…

Under the proposed principles, Santos and AGL will agree agricultural landholders can say yes or no to operations on their land.

The only problem I see with Santos’ and AGL’s pledge is that it could impede the construction of long pipelines where the gas must pass through multiple properties. If one farmer refuses to grant access for the pipeline, then there needs to be some kind of appeals process so that development is not held-up unnecessarily.

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Leith van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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Comments

  1. bolstroodMEMBER

    “If one farmer refuses to grant access to the pipeline…..”

    The farmers are not in the clear yet.

    Separate legislation will probably be enacted regarding pipelines. Something along the lines of resource security.

  2. Shows the companies have confidence in safe CSG development. Once the industry in NSW reaches the maturity level of QLD and landholders have confidence that a lot of the current fears are exaggerated, many will see the benefit of a per well, drought proof, yearly compensation agreement.

    Due to the current level of mis-information around the industry, only long term sustainable development will swing the public around and starting court battles with landholders will only provide ammunition for green ‘no development ever’ groups.

  3. Fact: no farmer owns land. Farmers are only title holders. They are entitled to a piece of paper. If the government wants to run a pipe through someone’s property they eventually will – they will ‘bleed’ anyone in their path with legal action.

    New NSW legislation is only relevant if it does not impede on the rights of title holders under Commonwealth law. Peter Spencer had to camp up a tree and starve himself to get a fair go in federal courts. It was also an example of extremes that people need to go to for public attention to (illegal) government bullying.

    I wouldn’t think Santos or AGL are doing this out of the goodness of the hearts of board members or executives. They probably realise that it is more cost effective not to dispute with anti-CSG farmers… at least not until they’ve paid off enough pollies!