LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
I REFER to the article headed ‘CSG Free holds Maffra meeting’, in which I was quoted.
I would like to clarify what I said at that meeting, to ensure that landholders and members of the community are aware of their legal rights in relation to coal seam gas.
Mining and CSG companies, once they have an exploration or mining licence, can seek access to private land to conduct exploration and mining.
They cannot get access to land until the landholder has signed an access agreement.
Landholders, initially, are not required to sign an agreement or allow the companies onto their property.
However, if landholders do not sign an agreement there is a possibility that the company will take the landholder to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and seek that the tribunal impose a compensation agreement.
If the CSG company obtains a compensation agreement from VCAT, then landholders might be breaching the Mining Act if they do not allow the CSG company onto their land.
If a landholder chooses to sign an access agreement, it is important that they know that they can negotiate any agreement, so that compensation is fair, damage to their land is minimised and any damage fully repaired.
Landholders can ask that the mining and CSG companies provide money to enable the landholders to get legal advice.
We encourage all landholders who are considering agreeing to an access agreement to get independent legal advice, paid for by the CSG company, before signing any access agreement.