Established last year, the Land Access Working Group is a state government-backed initiative designed to inform landholders about their rights and responsibilities where petroleum and mineral explorers seek access to their land.
With different permitting systems falling under different regulations, many farmers reported feeling confused about the process.
In addition to access issues and permitting processes, there were also concerns about compensation and land rehabilitation.
Drawing on input from peak mining, petroleum and agricultural bodies, the working group involves the Queensland Resources Council, AgForce, the Queensland Farmers Federation and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
While essentially an initiative to update and standardise land access processes, the group also made it a priority to raise landowners’ awareness and understanding of access issues, via a series of forums.
AgForce acting chief executive Andrew Freeman said the group had successfully increased the knowledge base of farmers over land access issues and had helped to improve the agricultural sector’s perception of the mining industry.
“I think the suspicion among landholders has been eased,” he told MiningNews.net
“And it’s given them an opportunity to hear from the regulator about the process by which a company is expected to go through.”
Armed with information gained from the forums and industry representative groups, regulators are working on creating a standard access agreement, which Freeman said should be completed mid-year.
Meanwhile improved alignment of the various government departments involved in land access matters was likely to involve a much longer process, Freeman said.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said responsible development of the state’s resources was in the interests of all stakeholders.
“As the custodian of the state’s minerals and energy resources, the state government has an essential role to play in ensuring that stakeholders are aware of their rights and responsibilities,” he said.
Roche said that one of the most satisfying outcomes from the working group’s work to date was a commitment from the Department of Mines and Energy to establish an office in the western Darling Downs town of Roma.
The taskforce is due to meet again in early February.