WITH more than half of all landholders with coal seam gas projects under way on their land unhappy with their agreements, it pays to know as much as you can before signing on the dotted line.
That was the message from Daniel Phipps, Agforce CSG project leader, in the wake of landholder workshops at Roma and Chinchilla.
Mr Phipps said about 45 landholders attended the two workshops, part of a series on advanced negotiation, to share experiences and learn more about the process of nutting out an agreement with CSG companies.
He said there was a range of common problems people had once they were locked into their agreement, including biosecurity issues, dust and other environmental factors, gas in bore water supplies and the time spent on ensuring compliance among CSG employees and contractors.
Complaints about CSG projects were racking up, but he was uncertain if that was due to increased problems or simply a case of farmers becoming more aware of their rights.
Whatever the case, Mr Phipps said the Queensland Government was pushing to open up more land to CSG projects and predicted it would lead to up to 20,000 more wells on farmland across the state.
That made it high time for many producers to look into the finer points of legal negotiation, and Mr Phipps said talking to other producers was the best way to get started.
"We have some really good discussions,” he said.
"These (workshops) provide landholders with the opportunity to share their experiences with negotiations - what they've seen or what has worked for them.”
He said the complexity of agreements had grown along with the number of wells and people tended to be overly focussed on money rather than potential impacts.
"Currently what we're commonly seeing is people focussing too much on compensation,” Mr Phipps said.
"It's very easy to get too focussed on the money and not to focus or give as much importance to behaviour.
"One of the emerging issues is weed control and biosecurity.”
He described a recent dispute between a landholder and a CSG company where both parties were in disagreement about a weed outbreak.
The landholder asserted it was due to the CSG company employees or contractors not following biosecurity protocols when entering the property, while the CSG company said it was more likely workers had simply spread seeds that were already on the property in a dormant state.
He said there were yet to be any good results from test cases to determine future direction but it paid to really put thought into potential impacts of all kinds when adding to a standard conduct and compensation agreement.
He said another logical thing for producers to do was add in review clauses so changes could legally be made if unforeseen problems began cropping up.
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