June 3rd 2014
Restricted areas in the new Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014
I will try to give as brief a summary as possible of what a variety of law firms are saying about restricted areas in the new Bill.
In the 376 pages of legislation sections on restricted areas are scattered throughout the Bill with 57 references. In spite of that much to do with restricted areas will be in regulation.
The discussion paper has proposed that most previously restricted areas such as bores, yards, water storages and dams be omitted and offered no protection. Of significance to landowners and still remaining are dwellings, intensive animal production such as feedlots and buildings used for business which cannot be easily relocated. Although theoretically not prescribed in regulation yet the proposed distance from such infrastructure is 200m. (Several law firms, PRA and Basin Sustainability Alliance all asked for 600m). This restriction only applies to activities which are likely to cause surface disturbance or subsidence so some possible factors will not be covered. Activities other than that by a resource company (Powerlink activities for example) are only required to stay 50m from a dwelling or other protected infrastructure.
In the Bill and therefore more definite is that only eligible infrastructure that is in place at the granting of the environmental authority is covered so a new dwelling or business is left unprotected. This will be a severe curb on farm flexibility to site any new improvements where you want them.
The landowner can give consent for resources companies not to observe restricted areas but PRA would strongly advise against this and certainly it should not be done without your solicitor at your elbow every step of the way and only for substantial compensation. Once given, consent cannot be withdrawn.
It is proposed that restricted land be included in the mining lease which is not the case at present. It is also proposed that some mining leases will be granted without any restricted areas. PRA would strongly advise landowners not to go down this track and get legal advice. Some lawyers are arguing that the proposed legislation leaves landowners with little to no protection and certainly some sections seem to be written with the confident expectation that restricted areas will not be off limits. S245 (1) (h) (ii) page 247, S245 (1) (l) page 248.
Some law firms have said that some provisions are retrospective in effect and some of those provisions apply to restricted areas.
We believe that this Bill and associated regulations will further erode the rights of landowners to conduct their businesses and protect their factors of production, their infrastructure, the amenity of their residences, future business planning decisions and future dwellings.
Landowners have made their concerns about proximity of resource activity and related infrastructure operating in close proximity to their homes and work areas. Their concerns have been ignored.
These provisions are not the only ones which will concern landowners. Only a flood of submissions from landowners will change any of the provisions or regulations.
Submissions close 9th July, 2014.
Joanne Rea, Chairman
Property Rights Australia
Phone: 07 49213430
Fax: 07 49213870
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