CSG activities in Queensland are regulated under a number of different pieces of state and federal legislation; therefore it can be difficult to understand what activities a company can carry out and what restrictions apply to these activities. This highlights why professional legal advice is so important throughout the negotiation process as well as asking questions of your company representative and contacting AgForce Projects staff to help.
A specific example of this issue that is commonly raised at workshops is the minimum distance a CSG well can be located from a landholder’s home (or other important infrastructure). Unlike the Mineral Resources Act, which governs coal and mineral exploration in Queensland, there are no specific distance restrictions in the Petroleum & Gas (Production and Safety) Act regarding this. Therefore in order to answer this question you would need to review the Environmental Authority (EA) for the specific company and tenure in question, in conjunction with other environmental legislation. The EA is granted by the government after consideration and review of environmental, social and development management plans submitted by the company. The EA will most likely not state a specific distance that CSG wells and infrastructure can be located to a house but will stipulate noise, dust and light pollution restrictions at ‘sensitive receptors’, such as a house.
Part of the environmental approval process is that companies must submit noise, dust and light pollution management plans. In these plans they must detail and prove to the government how they can comply with the restrictions of the Environmental Protection Act (EP Act) regarding anticipated environmental harm or nuisance as well as specific restrictions placed on the project by the Government through their individual EA’s. Under Section 15 of the EP Act, environmental nuisance is defined as “unreasonable interference or likely interference with an environmental value (a quality or physical characteristic of the environment that is conducive to ecological health or public amenity or safety) caused by: (a) aerosols, fumes, light, noise, odour, particles or smoke; or (b) an unhealthy, offensive or unsightly condition because of contamination”.
What this means is that if a proposed CSG well pad is too close to a sensitive receptor, such as a house, and the company cannot prove that they can comply with noise, light and/or dust restrictions outlined in their EA, then this may be a breach of the companies EA and/or contravention of the EP Act. What this highlights is that it is important that the resource company explains to you their project developments on your property and demonstrates how they can prove they can comply with restrictions of the EP Act and their EA conditions. It is also important that you consider both the construction and production phases of their planned infrastructure, as the level of development and activity will differ.
The CSG Project is delivered by AgForce Projects with the support of the Queensland Government, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, Queensland Resources Council and the GasFields Commission Queensland.