A new bill that would give the Australian landowners power to refuse fracking companies access to their land has been referred to a Senate standing committee.
The Landholder’s Right to Refuse Bill 2015, introduced by the Green Party, will “provide that Australian landholders have the right to refuse the undertaking of gas and coal mining activities by corporations on their land without prior written authorisation; set out the requirements of a prior written authorisation; provide for relief which a court may grant a land owner when prior written authorisation is not provided; prohibit hydraulic fracturing for coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas by corporations; and provide for civil penalties.
The legislation might particularly change things in Tasmania, where an Australian mining company PetraGas applied for a petroleum exploration licence in the 3,900 square kilometre area of the petroleum-bearing Tasmania Basin, which is prospective for both conventional and unconventional oil and gas.
Key source rock horizons include the Tasmanite Oil Shale, which consists of thin organic-rich bands with a recorded average Total Organic Content of 21.6 per cent. This is well above the 5% that is an indicator of good source rock quality. In addition, high hydrogen index values in the Tasmanite Oil Shale indicate an oil-prone source rock.
At the moment, the law in Tasmania requires landowner consent at the exploration stage but not at the production stage. Greens leader Christine Milne said that the new law would change that, giving additional layer of protection to the landowners, who are by and large opposed to fracking.
“We’ve introduced a bill which would use the Commonwealth Corporations power to make it an offence for these corporations to come onto a property where the farmer has said no,” she explained.
However, Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council chief executive Wayne Bould told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that he was worried about the bill passing.
“There’s enough empirical evidence to say that if it’s managed properly and it complies with all the regulations in place at the time there isn’t an issue,” he said, adding: “I really think it’s up to the industries to make sure that they adequately detail public issues so the public understands what it’s all about.”
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