NTCA pushes for standardised land access code

SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY:NTCA seeks mandatory provisions regarding dispute resolutions for pastoralists.
SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY:NTCA seeks mandatory provisions regarding dispute resolutions for pastoralists. contributed

AS OUR national leaders grapple with what has been coined an energy crisis, in the Northern Territory the use of onshore unconventional gas reserves is under the microscope as the independent scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing is well under way.

The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association continues to contribute to the inquiry, ensuring the concerns of pastoralists are addressed throughout the process.

The NTCA presented its submission to the Northern Territory Scientific Inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in March and has since been invited to provide further supplementary information to be considered by the expert panel.

The position stated by the NTCA during the hearing conducted in March was that we do not support the use of hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory in its current regulatory framework, as the many associated risks to be considered and managed are not yet sufficiently quantified, understood and explained. We consider this essential to ensuring the ongoing sustainability of the pastoral industry, rural communities and to facilitating successful coexistence with the resource industry. We do however reserve the right to review that position following the release of the scientific expert report expected later in the year.

Further to the position submitted in March the NTCA has highlighted additional considerations key to the pastoral sector including:

Informed consent including mandatory provisions regarding dispute resolution, standard acceptable land access conduct requirements and notification requirements,

Establishing a standardised land access code to act as a mandatory access guideline,

A legislated provision for compensation where damage or loss arises after the authorised activities.

Whilst landholders in NT are bestowed with surface rights in connection with their land tenure, mining and petroleum tenement holders are entitled to extract valuable minerals or petroleum in accordance with mineral titles and exploration permits.

The NTCA accepts that the extraction of resources by the tenement holder delivers royalties and economic financial income to the NT. However the cattle industry also provides numerous benefits including producing a food source, fire management, regeneration of plant life and grasslands, and the care-taking of large areas of land that sustain an abundance of native wildlife and plant species. The Australian agricultural sector continues to grow with sound prospects for further expansion with the ability to support the economy through investment, employment and growth. Landholders in the agricultural sector will make innovative changes to meet current environmental, social and financial challenges enabling the industry to contribute to the NT economy and social fabric for years to come.

Many of the areas targeted by tenement holders are rich pastoral areas with valuable water resources. The current land access and resources regime in the NT empowers resource tenements to a higher prerogative and broader spectrum of entitlements to the detriment of the landholder.

Both landholders and tenement holders' rights and interests in the land should be balanced, ensuring entitlements and rights to economic benefits are fairly and adequately accommodated.

Topics:  fracking gas land access northern territory northern territory cattlemen's association ntca tom stockwell

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