Lynette Eggins

Landowners powerless over mining

COAL seam gas exploration and extraction was discussed by the more than 75 people attending a meeting on Thursday night at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club.

The big issue for landholders in the Clarence Valley was what legal rights they had if approached by a gas mining company eyeing their property, said Northern Rivers Environmental Defenders Office chief solicitor Sue Higginson, who spoke at the meeting.

“Private landholders don't have too many rights, certainly no power of veto,” she said.

“They can be forced to arbitration to negotiate a deal.”

She said there was no necessity for public consultation in the 1991 legislation governing coal seam gas (CSG) exploration, which was at odds with best practice for developing activities with land use impacts on that scale.

It was fair to say that people wishing to develop land for residential housing faced tougher regulatory hurdles, said Ms Higginson. Across the Northern Rivers, communities and individuals have been frustrated by the complete lack of community consultation required before CSG exploration began, she said.

The new State Government implemented an interim assessment regime for new CSG extraction applications that aims to reduce the conflict with agriculture and tourism.

But as yet, no details of the policy have been made public.



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