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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    New laws to protect landholders' rights as CSG industry grows

    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    New laws to protect landholders' rights as CSG industry grows

    New laws will be introduced in the Queensland Parliament this week which aim to provide a more consistent and transparent process to improve landholders’ rights when their land is accessed for coal seam gas exploration.

    Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said the amendments to the existing land access framework are about providing certainty to all stakeholders about their respective rights and responsibilities when it comes to land access.

    “The resource and agricultural sectors are the backbone of the rural and regional Queensland economy and their co-existence is critical to the long term economic prosperity of the State,” Mr Robertson said.

    “The CSG industry has major potential to create job and investment in Queensland which is why we must get the balance right between supporting this growing industry and protecting valuable farmland, ground water supplies, and the environment generally.

    “The growth of this industry in areas not previously touched by the mining industry presents new challenges for the affected communities, and the government is committed to ensuring the rights of landholders are protected.

    “In 2008, our government established the Land Access Working Group which brought together the resource industry, the farming sector and government to find a way forward.

    “The legislative changes being introduced into parliament this week will provide the solutions for both the resource companies and the landholders to co-exist and make a living off the land.

    “The changes aim to bring more consistent processes and more clarity on the rights and obligations of all parties involved in private land access, encouraging early engagement to negotiate agreed terms.”

    Mr Robertson said the new land access framework is just one element of the Queensland’s Government efforts to ensure the sustainable and responsible growth of the CSG and LNG industry.

    “Most of the CSG activities in Queensland are currently in the exploration phase and the Government is conscious of the need to have the regulatory regime bedded down as these projects move towards final approval,” he said.

    “Each of the proposed projects will be required to undergo robust environmental scrutiny through State and Federal environmental impact assessments, and the Department of Environment and Resource Management will be ensuring the regulatory framework in place is strong enough to protect ground water quality on an ongoing basis.

    “We will continue to work to ensure we get the balance right, so we can support this job generating industry, while protecting the environment and ensuring a sustainable agriculture industry.”

    Mr Robertson said government released the Blueprint for Queensland’s LNG Industry in September 2009 and since that time has taken a number of steps to ensure the environmental impacts of this industry are strongly regulated, including:

    - Legislation before the parliament that will prohibit the disposal of CSG water in evaporation dams, except in exceptional circumstances.
    - Strict environmental best-practice guidelines have been introduced that establish model conditions for attachment to approvals for coal seam gas activity.
    - To ensure that decisions are made on the best available information, extensive guidelines have also been established that define the information that must be provided by a proponent before seeking approval for coal seam gas activities or for the beneficial use of CSG water. As part of this, CSG operators will need to submit environmental management plans to demonstrate how they will manage water from projects and evaluate the effectiveness of their operations on a yearly basis.

    The Queensland Government has also recently:

    - Announced the setting of specific triggers requiring action if CSG operations impact on groundwater resources.
    - Sought public comment on a Strategic Cropping Land discussion paper to protect the State’s best quality agricultural land from encroachment, including by mining.
    - Given the independent Queensland Water Commission responsibility for managing and monitoring CMAs. CSG producers will face a clear legal obligation to ‘make good’ for negative impacts on bores and springs. Where the impact of different CSG producers overlaps, Cumulative Management Areas (CMAs) will be declared and regulated in a coordinated way.

    “To ensure we continue to keep pace with the impacts of this growing industry, the Department of Environment and Resource Management is also undertaking a Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study, to identify risks to ground and surface water associated with mining activities, and determine the best ways to manage these risks as the industry grows,” Mr Robertson said.

    Media Contact: Minister’s Office – 3224 7332