CSG Webinar - CSG and Resource Negotiation Preparation

Coal Seam Gas and Resource Negotiation Preparation Webinar

AgForce Projects Coal Seam Gas (CSG) and Mining Landholder Support Project is dedicated to providing free and easily accessible information to landholders across Queensland about the CSG and mining industry including developments regarding legislation and regulation as well as support in negotiating agreements.

The project aims to provide landholders across Queensland with independent, factual and landholder relevant information to support landholders managing resource activities at any stage; from preliminary negotiations to ongoing management.

This webinar provides landholders with an overview of:
  • The land access framework- including preliminary and advanced activities;
  • Landholder rights and responsibilities throughout this process and the obligations of resource companies;
  • Overview of the draft 2016 Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) as developed by the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA);
  • Landholder rights under the ‘Make Good’ framework;
  • Tips and tools for landholders to consider in negotiating a land access agreement, known as a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA); and
  • Support services that exist to support landholders throughout all stages of resource negotiations.
AgForce Projects would like to remind landholders that they are entitled to have their ‘necessary and reasonable’ legal, accounting and valuation costs incurred to negotiate a CCA reimbursed by the resource company. As such we strongly encourage landholders to seek appropriate professional advice as part of CCA negotiations.

As the resources industry (CSG and mining) continues to develop and expand across Queensland, we encourage landholders to ensure they remain aware and informed of their rights, responsibilities, industry developments and continue to access support services to assist, such as the AgForce Projects Landholder CSG & Mining Support Project which provides free support to all landholders.

For more information on the Project click here

Below are questions raised by landholders before and during the webinar:

What is a Conduct and Compensation Agreement?
A. Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) is a legal contract between the landholder and the resource company. This agreement not only sets down the amount of compensation to be paid for CSG activities, it also sets out specific conduct requirements including how, when and where CSG activities will be carried out.

It is important to recognise that this agreement attaches to your land, so if you sell your property and the CCA is current, it applies to the new owner for the term specified in the agreement. This is why it is important to seek professional advice and consider all aspects and impacts of CSG activities on your business and family.

During the CCA negotiation process we encourage landholders to consider including a term in the agreement (i.e. how long it applies for, 1 year, 5 years etc.) or to include a review process such as periodically reviewing the agreement to ensure that activities and impacts reflect the compensation but also that conduct provisions are working effectively.
For more information on the CCA process click here.

I have been approached to negotiate an agreement, what happens now?
A. If a CSG company approaches you to negotiate a CCA for advanced activities (i.e. activities likely to have an impact such as CSG wells, access roads, pipelines etc.) there is a graduated negotiation process that exists under the land access framework in place since 2010.

Under this framework CSG companies are required to develop a signed conduct and compensation agreement (CCA) with the landholder prior to advanced activities being carried out. As mentioned above, the CCA includes both compensation payable as well as outlying conduct provisions such as access arrangements, location of infrastructure, timing of activities and any other specific provisions that you include. 

The land access framework provides for a minimum of 20 business days that you and the company must negotiate before the process can proceed to the next step. During this time, you should discuss with your company representative all aspects of the CCA as well as engage professional advice to assist you. It is important to note that this 20 business day period is only a minimum and not a maximum timeframe and many CCA negotiations extend past this point to ensure landholders have time to address their concerns in the agreement.

It is during this negotiation process that we encourage you to contact our CSG Staff to inform you of your rights and responsibilities during the negotiations as well as provide advice on possible conduct considerations to include.

After this initial 20 business day period, the framework allows for either you or the company to refer the negotiation process to mediation (conference) or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This process provides for another period of 20 business days as a minimum and is designed to help a third party assist you and the company reach an agreement.

If an agreement is not reached after this process/time you may continue to negotiate with the company or either party (you or the company) may refer the matter to the Queensland Land Court to preside over the matter.

What to consider when negotiating or best to leave it to lawyers?
A. As mentioned above, landholders are entitled to have their ‘necessary and reasonable’ legal, accounting and valuation costs incurred to negotiate a CCA reimbursed by the resource company. As such we strongly encourage landholders to seek appropriate professional advice as part of CCA negotiations.

As every property is different, every CCA is also different and will require different points to consider when being developed. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to negotiations and it is important to consider and document the individual features of both your property and how you run your business. 

It is therefore important that landholders remain involved in all aspects of the negotiation process to ensure that the agreement/negotiation process is progressing at a rate you are comfortable with, to ensure that your concerns are being addressed and to make sure that you understand the proposed activities, the potential impact and be able to provide input to minimise and manage this potential impact. It is also important for the company to understand your concerns so they can be addressed but also how you operate your business to ensure the impact from activities is minimised.

AgForce Projects does not see effective negotiations as being only between a landholder’s legal representative and the company representative, we see that landholders being at the negotiation table as a critical component to ensuring a more equitable outcome and development of a stronger understanding and respect for each party.

Through workshops and one-on-one support provided to landholders through the CSG & Mining Project our CSG Staff can help you understand what to consider during negotiations including property specific features and also help understand how to record and document such considerations.

To contact a CSG project staff member call 3238 6048 or email a CSG Project Officer. Click here for more information regarding this process.

If I think my bore is being affected by CSG what should I do?
A. Firstly, we recommend that you contact the resource company that holds the tenure (resource permit) over your property to raise your concerns with them and ask that they investigate. If you are not satisfied with their response you should contact the CSG Compliance Unit as part of the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM).
Their contact details are: 07 4529 1500  or email csg.enquiries@dnrm.qld.gov.au
 
The CSG Unit (or the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection-DEHP) may direct the responsible company to undertake a bore assessment/bore investigation or the Department may undertake this process. They will review the assessment and any other relevant information, such as local and regional groundwater licenses/activities, nearby CSG or mining activities and any other factor which will help them determine the impact.

If this process determines that the CSG company is responsible for the impact to your bore, the company will be required to enter into a ‘Make Good’ agreement with you under Chapter 3 of the Water Act (2000). This will require the company to enter into an agreement to either provide an alternative supply (i.e. new bore or surface water), compensation or another arrangement you negotiate.

For more information on the 2016 Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report and the Make Good process click here.

How can I find out if my bore is going to be impacted by CSG?
A. As outlined in this webinar, there is a Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) which models and predicts bores which are likely to be impacted by CSG beyond a trigger threshold within the Surat Basin Cumulative Management Area (CMA).
This model is updated every three years with the original model released in 2012 and the current 2016 model under consideration by the Government prior to finalising this year.

Landholders can view the model on the DNRM website and can view the immediately short term i.e. impacts within 3 years and long term (impacts outside three years) affected areas on the Queensland Government CSG Globe

At AgForce Projects Advanced Negotiation Support Workshops landholders will have access to more detailed information regarding make good, the groundwater modelling process as well as demonstrations on how to use the CSG Globe to view groundwater data. To register for a CSG workshop click here.

As part of the MG agreement should all unregistered bores be registered?
A. The Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) only models and predicts impacts to registered bores across the Surat Basin Cumulative Management Area (CMA). Therefore, if your bore is not registered it will not be included in future UWIR models and included in this proactive/predictive ‘Make Good’ framework.

Landholders should consider their individual circumstances in this case and are encouraged to contact the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) to learn more about groundwater management in your local area.

To find out if you are under the Surat Basin Cumulative Management Area (CMA) click here.
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