Representing landowners were the NSW Farmers Association, Cotton Australia and the NSW Irrigators Council.
“Today we promise that we will continue to respect farmers who say yes or no to our operations,” AGL managing director Michael Fraser said.
“While the arbitration rights will remain in law, AGL has never exercised these rights and expect we never will.
“This is an important step in facilitating the development of the state’s natural gas resources for the benefit of the whole community.
Three principles were outlined in the agreement:
- Any landholder must be allowed to freely express their views on the type of operations that should or should not take place on their land without criticism, pressure, harassment or intimidation. A landholder is at liberty to say “yes” or “no” to the conduct of operations on their land;
- Gas companies confirm that they will respect the landholder’s wishes and not enter onto a landholder’s property to conduct operations where that landholder has clearly expressed the view that operations on their property would be unwelcome; and
- The parties will uphold the landholder’s decision to allow access for operations and do not support attempts by third party groups to interfere with any agreed operations. The parties condemn bullying, harassment and intimidation by third party groups and individuals in relation to the agreed operations.
“These principles reflect the vital role farmers play on the land and what AGL has always done – listened with respect,” Fraser said.
“The success of coal seam gas in NSW rests entirely on the trust we have developed with the farmers who host us on their land.
"AGL is proud of our close relationships with farmers and signing the new agreed principles reflects that we will continue to respect their wishes.
"We have more than 200 access agreements with farmers across the state – these relationships are very important to us and AGL has never needed to exercise the arbitration rights available under law.
“It’s about having respectful conversations, being clear about what’s involved and the benefits for the landholder.”