NSW Farmers Association Elections 2010 Handbook

Social, legal and health issues related to air and water toxic pollution in Australia.

NSW Farmers Association Elections 2010 Handbook

Postby HVPA_research » Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:58 am

NSW Farmers Association issued the following document Fairness for All:Property Rights which highlights their proposals for resolving serious legal and constitutional problems that exist at both state and federal levels. These concerns cover:
• Protection of Property Rights
• ‘Just Terms’ Compensation
• Native Vegetation
• Murray Darling Basin Planning
• Landholders and Mining

This is one of the best documents in the area of Property Rights ever produced and Hunter Valley Protection Alliance could not agree more with the conclusions of the NSW Farmers Association particularly in the area of Landholders and Mining:

THE ASSOCIATION IS SEEKING:
• The use of relevant Federal legislation to require an independent scientific process prior to
the granting of any exploration licence to identify and protect high value natural resources
and highly productive agricultural land.
• Amend the Water Act 2007 to recognise mineral and petroleum exploration and extraction
as an interception activity; to require licensing of all water intercepted as a result of the
above processes; and to account for such water in the water sharing plans.
• ‘Just terms’ compensation for the true effect of exploration and extraction of minerals and
petroleum upon landholders, including loss of water or degradation of water title.


Detailed arguments supporting these proposals follow here:

Effect of Mining on Property Rights

Currently, mining and planning legislation fail to adequately protect agricultural resources and farmers’ property from
the impacts of mining.It is impossible to undertake any large scale mining without permanent, destructive changes to natural resource systems and a range of negative amenity, health and financial impacts to the surrounding district. Current standards and processes, for selecting appropriate sites, minimising cumulative impacts, controlling risk and compensating
affected citizens are unacceptably low.

It may be possible to limit the damage and risk resulting from one mine, but experience shows that one mine tends
to be followed by others, and the cumulative impacts are catastrophic – not just in environmental terms, but on the
entire social and economic character of the district. Planning legislation and the mining approval process makes no
provision for managing these cumulative impacts.



THE PROBLEMS:
Exploration

Currently in NSW, mining exploration licences are granted with little or no consideration to the impacts that these licences will have on freehold land and water titles in the affected area. To make matters worse, licences are awarded without any inter-agency or stakeholder consultation, assessment of scientific data, independent assessments of natural resources, consideration of cumulative impacts, or consideration of the agricultural production activities that are potentially affected by them.

Landowners are not individually notified of exploration licences granted over their properties and often have to read about these in the local press. There are no government resources to assist the landowner to deal with the implications of the granting of the exploration licence over their property.


Approval
When a production licence is granted, it is done without resolving the complex resource allocation and risk management questions that must be addressed when considering areas for mining development. This is particularly the case when highly valuable agricultural and water resources are involved. The current process encourages significant investment in
exploration and the development of mining project proposals in isolation and without any consideration of competing values (for example agricultural values) and potential risks to those values.


Compensation
In any legal challenge the onus is on the landholder to provide all evidence regarding the extent of any damage that has been done, prove that the mining activities are directly responsible for this damage, and bear all costs associated with the process, including any adverse cost orders in the Land and Environment Court. Farmers do not have the resources to defend themselves against the financial clout of multinational mining companies. The miners know this, and openly practice a policy of fear, often pouring unlimited resources into cases they know they cannot win, simply to scare other individuals
from taking them on.

Currently there is no requirement for independent monitoring of environmental issues during the exploration or mining process, with these activities being left in the hands of the miners themselves. This makes it nearly impossible for farmers to gather the evidence needed to prove their case. The limited compensation currently available to landholders typically stops at the boundary of the directly affected property which can mean the farmer adjacent to the mine, or in range of the mines dust and noise, gets nothing.

Finally, there is currently no provision in any statutory instrument to compensate farmers for impacts from mining or exploration on water assets to which farmers hold legal title.


Proposed Solution
The Association is seeking a commitment from political parties and individuals contesting the 2010 Federal Election to utilise all legislative powers available to the Commonwealth to:

• Require an independent scientific process prior to
the granting of any exploration licence to identify
and protect high value natural resources and highly
productive agricultural land.

• Include an independent body in the assessment
process.

• Notify every title holder prior to publication of the
awarding of a licence.

• Provide an initial appeals process prior to awarding
exploration licences.

• Establish an integrated strategic planning
process for mining development that factors in all
competing social, environmental and economic
values, with explicit, upfront provision for
cumulative impacts.

• Ensure the planning and approval process,
including the issuance of exploration licences,
incorporates inter-agency discussion, strategy,
advice and recommendations.

• Establish an independent tribunal to investigate
mining impacts and assist landholders in gathering
evidence.

• Provide statutory arrangements for proportional
just terms compensation to all landholders affected
by mines; and

• Provide statutory arrangements for just terms
compensation for loss of water or degradation of
water title.
HVPA_research
 
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