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Challenges detailed in land report

The State Government's Land Access Report is open for public comment.
The State Government's Land Access Report is open for public comment.

AFTER six experts read 68 submissions and interviewed 109 people including land-owners, resource companies and lawyers, nobody had a single suggestion on how to protect the world's largest underground water supply from gas drilling.

These are among the challenges for the Queensland Government to overcome as it seeks to develop the coal seam gas industry.

This Land Access Framework report, released by Minister for Mines Andrew Cripps on Wednesday, worked through the issues that stemmed from resource firms prospecting or mining on another's property.

It chronicled how different sides have reacted since the first Land Access Framework was installed in late 2010.

In the executive summary, the report said that changes affected the lives of many but did not improve working relationships between owners and the mining industry

The report suggests 12 recommendations to achieve "optimal process".

Where the report detailed how concerns could be addressed, it was silent on "the impact of CSG extraction on groundwater resources, particularly the Great Artesian Basin".

That is despite 45 interviews and 33 submissions from resource firms, many of which were directly involved with CSG extraction.

The 47-page report also found no suggestions for dealing with farm land potentially affected by underground mining in Central Queensland.

The underground basin - tapped by many for bore water - stretches from the tip of Queensland's north, inland around Blackall in Western Queensland then into the Surat Basin.

It covers all of south-west Queensland, north-east South Australia and swathes of Northern Territory and New South Wales.

Some of the 68 missives provide other insights, with one alleging "bullying, coercive and generally inappropriate negotiation" from mining companies.

Another warned these firms were supplying vague information which hindered the landowner in working out what was truly proposed.

Both of these issues may now benefit from better legislation.

This report followed the announced of the Gasfields Commission on Wednesday, a group dedicated to working with CSG companies and the community.

Agriculture Minister John McVeigh's spokesman said the minister knew of the report and would work closely with landowners and the mines department.

His office declined to answer any specific questions on his views regarding concerns raised or what action could be taken.

Mr Cripps said both resource firms and landholders would be protected through stronger planning schemes, which would give certainty to both sides.

The report will is now open to public comment for 30 days before further action is taken.


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