Mining: Farmers want their rights protected

VICTORIA’S farmers are calling for their rights be protected during coal seam gas and other mining developments.

VFF land management chair Gerald Leach wants the Victorian government to give farmers a right of veto over mining activities on their land.

“We take coal seam gas and mining very seriously, and know it can be an intimidating issue for many farmers,” Mr Leach said.

In addition, the VFF called on the government to give landholders the right to sign off on rehabilitation plans alongside the secretary of the Department of Primary Industry, to remove the 10 per cent cap on compensation for intangible values of land or assets, to increase the period of time in which claims can be made following rehabilitation, from three years to five years, reinstate the mining development advisory committee and renew the role and powers of the mining warden.

Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan told the Gippsland Times through a spokesperson that the government understood the concerns raised by the Victorian Farmers Federation.

However no assurance was given on meeting the VFF’s requests.

“There is currently no coal seam gas production in Victoria and we are a long way away from the prospect of any onshore gas production being carried out,” Mr Ryan’s spokesperson said.

“The moratorium on fracking and the hold on the issuing of new exploration licences for coal seam gas will continue to remain in place.”

Questioned about the progress of the investigations by former Howard government minister Peter Reith into the onshore gas industry and exploration, Mr Ryan’s spokesperson said the report had not yet been submitted.

“Peter Reith was appointed last year by the Coalition government to chair a taskforce looking at issues associated with the east coast Australia gas market and the expected rise in gas prices.

“The Coalition government has not received Mr Reith’s report, and is therefore unable to comment on it,” he said.

Meanwhile the VFF has provided farmers with information on coal seam gas, landholder rights, and advice on what to do when faced with mining exploration or developments.

“We have pro-forma access agreements, information booklets and other resources that are available to members,” Mr Leach said.

“We specifically held meetings in Gippsland targeting the issue of coal seam gas, and made sure we had mining regulators from the then Department of Primary Industries on hand to give the facts,” he said.

“We know our job is not done, and that is why we continue to push for stronger landholder rights in minerals legislation.”

A rally will be held in Seaspray this Sunday, celebrating its “gasfield free” declaration.