LEAKED documents suggest the NSW Government is planning changes to the Petroleum (Onshore) Act that would allow coal and gas mining companies access to private land without the need for an access agreement.
Under current legislation, if a land owner refuses to give a mining company access to their land, the company may then take the matter to arbitration and the court may impose conditions on the company's access.
The proposed changes would also prevent councils from prohibiting testing on council-controlled land.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell is hoping to get the support of her colleagues to lobby the government not to implement the changes.
Lismore Council refused to grant Metgasco access to council-controlled land around Rock Valley in 2011.
Legal advice on this position was sought via NOROC and it was the solicitor who provided that advice who has now seen evidence the Land and Water Commission is seeking changes to the act that would allow mining companies much greater access.
The changes would mean permit holders would have a "right of entry" to undertake geological, geophysical and geochemical surveys and to remove petroleum, water or strata from the land without the need for an access agreement.
"These are very substantial inroads into existing landholder rights and raise serious concerns," Cr Dowell said.
Lock The Gate spokesperson Ian Gaillard said they are calling on the Planning Minister Brad Hazzard to say why the changes are needed. "People should have a right to say 'no' on their own land," he said.
A spokesperson for Mr Hazzard said it was a matter for the Energy Minister.
A spokesperson for acting Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said the amendments would allow "a registered surveyor or departmental officer ... entry onto land only in limited circumstances and for narrowly defined purposes."
Workshops to show landholders their rights on CSG
NSW Farmers will hold workshops for landholders on mining and coal seam gas, including land access arrangements and landholder rights at Lismore, Grafton, Casino and Kyogle this week.
The workshops will be held in Lismore today 7pm-9.30pm at Lismore Workers Club; in Grafton tomorrow 7pm-9.30pm at South Grafton Services Club; in Casino on Thursday 6.30-9pm at Casino Community and Cultural Centre; and in Kyogle on Friday 10am-12.30pm at Grove House, 8 Geneva Street.
For more information contact the Landholder Mining and Coal Seam Gas Hotline on 1300 794 000.
RSVPs can be made to Scott Harlum on 0428 228 818 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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