Our energy law team are experts in representing landholders in negotiations with coal seam gas (CSG) companies. We have the experience and know-how to go head to head with the big guys and get you the result you need for you and your family.
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Common questions about Coal Seam Gas Legal Services
When it comes to CSG and your rights as a landholder, the situation can be very complicated. It doesn’t matter if you think the interest in your land is an opportunity or a threat, it’s still very important to be aware of your rights.
You may need a lawyer if:
- You received a notice from a CSG company stating that it plans to enter your property and carry out some initial tests.
- You received a notice that additional testing will be carried out on your land, once the initial tests are completed. This may mean the CSG company wants to perform seismic testing or, it may seek to install a well on the land to do further exploration.
- You received a letter from a CSG company stating that it intends to open negotiations with you to compensate you for your land, as it intends to open a gas field on it. In legal terms, this is called a Notice of Intention to Negotiate a Conduct and Compensation Agreement.
If a CSG company has permission to carry out activities on your land, you will need to enter into an agreement. This is called a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA).
You have a legal right to know what activities any CSG company intends to do on your land. You need to be compensated for those activities. In some cases, you have the right to prevent or reduce the activities a company plans to perform.
In this situation, the CSG company may state that it has a “standard” Access Agreement for you to sign. Please note – There’s no such thing as a “standard” agreement.
The Government “standard” agreement is only a template. It’s expected that this template will be adapted to meet the individual circumstances of each landholder. This means that no two agreements (CCA) can be the same, simply because no two properties are the same.
You need to know what should be included in your agreement based on the unique features of your land. Furthermore, you need to be compensated accordingly.
This is why you need a lawyer who understands the CSG industry. Our energy law team will help you to understand what should be included in the agreement and how you will be compensated.
Our team has negotiated over 500 contracts for landowners and occupiers. The contracts resulted in around $300 million paid in compensation.
Our experience means that we understand landowners, the things that make properties unique and what can happen when a CSG company begins activities on your land.
Let us use our experience and knowledge to ensure you are properly compensated for any CSG activities that take place on your land.
A Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) is a legally binding contract between you and the CSG company.
Without a CCA, a CSG company cannot enter your land and undertake ‘advanced’ activities unless the matter has been referred to Court.
The CCA will also state how those activities are to be undertaken so the impact to your business, your land use, your family and your lifestyle, is minimised. In fact, the terms of the agreement are often more important than the amount of compensation you receive.
The inclusions in your agreement will depend on the types of activities you conduct on your land. Some common issues that should be considered include:
- Access periods – times when it’s reasonable for the company to carry out activities on your land;
- Access points, roads and tracks – restrictions on where the CSG company can go on your land and, what tracks it can use;
- Your home and other buildings – how close to your home and farm buildings activities can be performed;
- Livestock and property – conditions for conduct around livestock and the manner and timeframe for repairing any damage caused to your property;
- Cropping – traffic damage to cropping activities e.g. water capture efficiency and erosion;
- Camps – location and management plan of any camps that the resource company intends to establish on your land;
- Infrastructure & equipment – conditions relating to any items the CSG company brings on to your land;
- Compensation – payments to you for the range of activities to be performed on your land;
- Dispute resolution – the manner of resolving any dispute arising in connection with the agreement.
- Right of Review – The circumstances in which you can have your compensation reviewed or revisited altogether.
It’s important to engage a lawyer as early as possible in the negotiation process to help draft the CCA. This will safeguard your rights if there is a dispute with the company down the track.
The amount of compensation you receive will be based on your individual circumstances, so it’s very hard to estimate an amount without knowing all the details. Generally, the amount will depend on what the CSG company wants to do on your land, the length of time they will be there and what the impact will be on your land and business.
Some of these factors may also contribute to the compensation you receive:
- Deprivation or possession of land surface;
- Reduction in land value;
- Severance of land from other parts of the property owned by the landholder;
- Reduction in land use, including reduced use that could be made through any improvements to it;
- Any cost, damage, or loss arising from activities carried out under the land surface;
- Damages caused to the landholder as a consequence of matters mentioned above.
Any compensation you receive may also effect your taxation, social security, estate planning and other matters. So it’s vital you talk to experienced lawyers who understand the bigger picture.
Any legal costs associated with negotiating your CCA will be included in you compensation claim, wherever that is possible.
Under the Law, the CSG company is obliged to pay all “Reasonable and Necessary” costs associated with engaging a lawyer. That does not always mean all costs are recovered but it is very rare for us not to secure all costs directly or indirectly.
The legal costs will be determined by the amount of work request to prepare your agreement and when the parties actually reach agreement. We will be happy to go through this in more detail when we meet with you.
In addition to helping you negotiate a fair CCA, our legal team can also assist you with the following services:
- Negotiation of the extent of activity to be undertaken on your land;
- Renewable Energy Agreements (i.e. Solar Power, Wind Power);
- Land Court Applications;
- Compliance issues;
- Seismic Agreements;
- Water and gravel Contracts;
- Appeals and submissions;
- Make Good Agreements;
- Briefing Valuers, Accountants and Experts;
- Writing letters on your behalf as well as examining, preparing and settling documents.
Peter Shannon is Special Counsel with Shine Lawyers and heads up our energy law team.
Peter’s advised hundreds of landholders in relation to coal seam gas and has extensive experience in negotiating Conduct and Compensation Agreements, Options and Easements. He has also been extensively involved in the community lobbying for the rights of landholders and was instrumental in the creation of the Basin Sustainability Alliance.
Rory Ross is a solicitor with over 5 years experience acting for rural clients and has acted for a number of clients in CSG and renewable energy related matters.
Shine Lawyers are expert CSG lawyers that can help you stand up for your rights as a landholder. Click the below for more information about the Shine Lawyers service and how we can help you.
Shine Lawyers have offices in the following locations.
New South Wales
- Gold Coast
- Hervey Bay
- North Lakes
- Stones Corner
- Sunshine Coast
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