PRA Newsletter Christmas 2013 Edition
I can hardly believe that we are at the end of yet another busy year.
Qld Vegetation Management
There are many new self-assessable vegetation management codes under the amended State Government legislation. DNRM is conducting a series of meetings in various areas to explain the codes and the operation of Qld Globe.
There are codes for fodder harvesting, thinning, weed management encroachment, property infrastructure, clearing of high value regrowth, clearing of regrowth watercourse area, clearing to improve operational efficiency of existing agricultural developments. Some purposes will still require a permit.
Landowners need to notify DNRM (There is a form to fill in. Can be done online.) http://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/land/vegetation-management/self-assessable-vegetation-clearing-codes/notification-form
But they have a new philosophy of working co-operatively with landowners to ensure codes are complied with. DNRM still wants to speak with people who want to carry out developments.
An Approved Area Management Plan is another way to get approval. You still need to notify the Department before clearing starts.
They still do have compliance officers and satellite monitoring and illegal clearing will be detected even if it is small areas done over a number of years.
One useful change is that there is no longer a category called high value regrowth on freehold land only. The category still exists on leasehold land. The maps on Qld Globe should reflect this.
PMAV’s are still relevant. The mapping will only reflect a new PMAV once it has been certified.
Getting clearing permits for the new uses of High Value Agriculture (HVA) and Irrigated High Value Agriculture (IHVA) will involve a fair amount of research with it being necessary to show with accountants figures that it is viable and that the soil type and expected rainfall are suitable. In the case of the IHVA it will be necessary to have a water license and will increase operational efficiency.
Coal Seam Gas
There is now a fair amount of information on CSG and negotiating with CSG companies but the problem is accessing it.
Make good agreements – There is a fairly simple guide put out by the Gasfields Commission. As they point out a make good agreement for bores is a legally binding contract so please get specialist advice and set out all the required actions if your bore is diminished. The CSG company is required to pay for specialist advice that you get for the agreement. Your rights to a “make good” agreement differ between the Petroleum and Gas Act and the Mineral Resources Act. Talk to your solicitor. Do not assume that what applies for CSG applies for mining.
This is a more comprehensive guide to make good agreements in the form of an 8 page booklet issued by the Department of environment & heritage protection. Although not perfect it is most likely the best current available information of the subject.
Some older bores in some areas are not registered and only known to the people who own them so ensure that all your bores are identified in any agreement. Talk to your legal advisor about this if it applies to you and see if you need to register them. Do not allow discrimination against any bore just because it is infrequently used or not used at all. It is your reserve supply.
GIAT (Groundwater Investigation Assessment Team) within the CSG Compliance Unit have the role of assessing impacts on landowners bores. GIAT treat unregistered bores with the status as those registered. They are also finding bores have been registered as accessing water from the wrong aquifer. GIAT will rectify any non or incorrect registration. Contact the CSG Compliance Unit and ask to be connected through to GIAT. Phone: 07 4529 1500
Baseline assessment – Landowners must make sure that bores are baseline assessed if not by the CSG company, by you. Anyone with a bore deemed to be in an immediate impact area the CSG tenement holder will be required to baseline your bore. The mandatory test is only a narrow range of testing. Insist on the much wider range voluntary testing including a full pump test. If in the future a dispute rises over the quality of the water, it is important to know at what is not in your water now.
Some members found the advice in the RIRDC/MLA link below helpful so I have included it again.
Principles for negotiating appropriate co-existence arrangements for agricultural landholders
If you have trouble opening the link copy and paste into your browser and you will at least come up with a google list. Try the first one.
The coal mining areas of the Galilee Basin are moving towards production. This is an area where mining has not occurred before so the government is trying to ensure that landowners are aware of the processes of negotiating with mining companies.
If there are any groups of landowners who would like to meet with Departmental personnel to discuss such things as “make good” agreements please call Joanne Rea to get details.
In the mining arena a “make good” agreement is a legally binding contract between the landowner and the mining company. Unlike CSG it is not guaranteed by the Mineral Resources Act. This difference is of significance and you should discuss it with your specialist legal advisor.
Be sure that every one of your bores is mapped and covered by the agreement and that a suite of actions is outlined. A bore should not be discriminated against just because it is rarely used.
There will also be “make good” provisions as part of the mining lease. These will only apply after damage has been done. Some older bores will be known only to those who own them. Check with your legal advisor if it is necessary to register your bores to ensure baseline assessments and monitoring are carried out and that they are part of the “make good” protocol.
The internet mapping program Queensland Globe is a multi-layered map based on Google Earth.
There is a fair bit of time required to download it all starting with Google earth if you do not have it but it has some useful information once you lean to use it. At first it can be a bit frustrating.
Instructions to download it can be found at
If you can download it you will be able (with a few teething problems expected) to access CSG and mining information and all the vegetation categories under the new Qld Government codes.
Rail Freight inquiry calling for public submissions
The Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee Chaired by Member for Warrego Howard Hobbs has commenced a Parliamentary Inquiry into rail freight use by agriculture and livestock industries in Queensland and optimising the capacity and performance of the rail system for freight.
Written submissions from interested persons, organisations or members of the public are being called for and can be sent by 5pm, Friday, 21 February 2014 to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: The Research Director, Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee, Parliament House, George Street, Brisbane QLD 4000.
Taxation considerations for mine or CSG compensation
PRA has in the past and continues to strongly recommend that landowners use specialist legal advice when negotiating with resource companies. The CCA (Conduct and compensation agreement) process makes allowance for the recoverable costs of advisor fees. These advisors can include legal, valuers and accountants. The use of accountants before an agreement has been signed has been sadly neglected and can save the landowner tens of thousands of dollars just in how the clauses are written and how the payments are structured. The CCA and schedule must properly refer to section 532 in the petroleum & Gas act, “compensable effect.”
CCA’s can be complex and circumstances can vary widely between neighbours; there is no one size that fits all. Minor variations of how a CCA is written can make a big difference.
In the future before signing an agreement the first person to see is your legal advisor, the second is your accountant.
Summarised from a presentation by Andrew Bullen of Crowe Horwath at the CSG Information Seminar held by Shine lawyers at Wandoan on the 4th December.
Dale attended the seminar and wrote the following opinion article based on a presentation by Glen Martin of Shine lawyers – Top ten tactics and tricks
PRA wishes all of our members and friends a very Happy Christmas.
We hope that by Christmas that all will have their fill of rain!
STAND YOUR GROUND