Thursday, 10 November 2016

Beef Capital receives Federal Funding

The expected route of the Rockhampton Road Train Access upgrade.
Photo: Contributed Trinnette Stevens
The Morning Bulletin, $20-million boost for Rocky's road upgrades by Kerri-Anne Mesner

$20 Million Federal Government Funding for the Rockhampton Road Train Access

On 24 October 2016, the Federal Government announced $20M to support Stage 2 of the Rockhampton Road Train Access.

The announcement by the Federal Government is welcome news as completion of Stage 2 of the Rockhampton Road Train Access will increase freight efficiency and improve road safety and access to Rockhampton.

Under Stage 2 of the Rockhampton Road Train Access, the roads from Gracemere to the Teys Bros Abattoir in Lakes Creek are set to be upgraded – and there is even talk of the highway between Gracemere and Rockhampton being upgraded to four lanes.

Earlier this year, Stage 1 of the Rockhampton Road Train Access received $10M in state funding under the Queensland Government's State Infrastructure Plan.

In an article published by The Morning Bulletin on 24 October 2016 ("$20-million boost for Rocky's road upgrades" by Kerri-Anne Mesner), Bill Byrne, Member for Rockhampton, stated "that he had a briefly [briefing] with the Department of Main Roads the other day which indicated the design and consultation phase of Stage 1 was near an end".

The plan for the Rockhampton Road Train Access is now becoming a reality and the Beef Capital will soon have the roads and infrastructure to support our local graziers and the beef industries.

Stage 1 is progressing nicely, Stage 2 now has funding – how long will it be until Stage 3 of the Rockhampton Road Train Access is being discussed and funded?

Contact Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Solicitor Emma Kime on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Friday, 28 October 2016

Rookwood Weir Update via Queensland Country Life




Queensland Country Life yesterday, published some good news for the Rookwood Weir Project.

Turnbull in town in Rockhampton for weir funding by Kelly Butterworth, 27 October 2016, 11:51am


Research Forum: Agriculture, Communities and Coal Seam Gas


Our Landowner Lawyer would like to share the following event.

The University of Queensland and AgForce Projects - CSG and Mining Project are co-hosting a forum to present Coal Seam Gas research to the communities of the Western Downs and Maranoa Regional Shire Councils.

The forum will include brief presentations on the results of recent research from the following research projects.

  • Agriculture and CSG Interactions
  • The Groundwater Atlas
  • Bore Monitoring
  • Small-Medium Businesses
  • Socio-economic Indicators
  • Groundwater Predictions
  • Community Sentiment
Attendees will be able to meet with researches, discuss the research findings and contribute your views to options for further research.

The Forum is FREE with Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon Tea provided.
You must RSVP by 11 November 2016.

When and Where:
Thursday 17 November 2016, 9.00am - 3.00pm (arrivals from 8.30am for 9.00 am start)
CHINCHILLA - Venue details will be confirmed via email/text the week prior to the event.

Register Today 
Visit www.agforceprojects.org.au or call (07) 3238 6048

For more information call (07) 3238 6048 or email csg@agforceprojects.org.au


Thursday, 27 October 2016

CSG Wells and Your Mortgage

CSG Wells

There has been a bit of media attention lately regarding a bank turning down a loan application on grounds relating to some Coal Seam Gas operations on a property. An example of such a story can be found here.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/30/commonwealth-bank-coal-seam-gas-makes-property-unacceptable-as-loan-security

Conduct and Compensation Agreement

It is usually a term of your bank mortgage that you must seek the consent of your bank prior to entering into any agreement for compensation relating to mining and/or gas activities on your property. It is therefore very important to provide a copy of any Compensation Agreement or CCA to your banker prior to signing any such document.

This will save you dealing with an angry mortgagee later and could have saved the landowners mentioned in the story attached from some problems.

If your bank is worried about any changes in the value of your land, then you can use their valuations or letters as a bargaining tool in your negotiations with a gas or mining company.

Sometimes, especially if the Activities to be performed on your land are quite substantial (e.g. a large gas pipeline), it is a good idea to chat with your banker about how your expected income stream on your property may be affected by gas or mining activities.

Your banker may like to hear from you about when any expected compensation money might be due to be paid to you so they can work with you in meeting the terms of your mortgage.


What can I do?

Conduct and Compensation Agreements for Mining and Gas Agreements are very complicated, and for this reason you should always involve your accountant, your lawyer and your banker at least in any negotiations you start. It is for this reason we would never advise a landowner to “Opt Out” of a negotiation.

The law also requires companies to reimburse landowner legal, accounting and valuation fees so it is always good to get advice on these types of negotiations.

Contact Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner, Melanie Findlay on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

MERC Mediation Rights

MERC

Our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay talks with 990 4RO Breakfast Host, Aaron Stevens about the MERC mediation process and how landowners rights are affected. Read the transcript or listen to the audio here.

Melanie can be contacted on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Buying a Rural Property with a CCA

CCA

Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Solicitor, Emma Kime tells us how important it is to ask the right questions when Buying a Rural Property with a CCA.

Emma can be contacted at Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Conduct and Compensation Agreements


Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Solicitor, Amy Gudmann talks about the standard
Conduct and Compensation Agreement.


Amy can be contacted at Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.




Rural Weekly: Railway giant sells off rural land

BIG SALE: Ray White Rural real estate agent Peter Douglas is leading the Aurizon property sale.
Our Landowner Lawyer shares Rural Weekly's news article "Railway giant sells off rural land" written by Andrea Davey, dated 19 September 2016.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Nature Conservation Act with Melanie Findlay


Our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay recently spoke to Aaron Stevens from 990 4RO regarding the Nature Conservation Act (also known as "trigger maps" or "blue dots").

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Contact Melanie Findlay on (07) 4927 6333 or enquire@reesjones.com.au if you have any questions on vegetation management or land clearing.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

#supportourcq


Dawson Valley Free Range Pork


Lucy and Kim House own a property at Baralaba in Central Queensland and pride themselves on producing pork that "tastes like pork should".

We were recently lucky enough to catch up with Lucy House and ask her a few questions about Dawson Valley Free Range Pork.

How how long have you been breeding pigs? 

We’ve been in pigs for about 5 years. We were cattle farmers before that. We’ve been at Anabank (Baralaba) for 25 years but as a cattle farm it is too small to be viable, so we decided to start a free range pig business for two reasons – to make a better income off a small place, and because we liked pigs!

Is accreditation required for free range farming? 

We are accredited with Humane Choice and I think some form of accreditation is important because the customer needs assurance that they are in fact buying a free range product. I think that there is only one form of free range, but unfortunately that is not enough as not all free range farms are the same.

Free range is where the animal is free to roam and to behave in a natural way. Of course free to roam is within reason, as for safety purposes, they do need to be contained behind some sort of fence. Pigs love to dig, lie around in wallows and eat grass, so it is important that they get every opportunity to do that. They should be in paddocks that have grass all the time, so some rotation and rest of paddocks is necessary.

Tell me about "Locavore", why is it important? 

To me the term locavore is a person that makes a conscious decision to eat local produce and to support local business. It does depend on the product, but I try to source the closest possible product to me. For example, local potatoes are only available for a very short period of time, so at other times I choose Queensland grown before any other part of Australia. I think it’s important to support local businesses (including food producers) as it encourages prosperity in the local area.

We need to de-centralise our food systems. Some would say that this would improve our food security, but I think the greater value is in keeping small communities alive. Not everyone wants to or can live in the major cities, so it is necessary to have employment in smaller towns – vibrant communities are needed to provide employment and this can be done by keeping local businesses profitable.

Are you seeing an increased interest in free range products or more support for our farmers as the general public is becoming more aware of food origins? 

We have two types of customers – some are more concerned with the quality of food that comes from a free range animal and others are more concerned with the quality of life that the animal has before it becomes food. Both are very important to me.

There is more interest in free range products because generally our health is not good. Health of humans has declined as the industrialised food systems (factory farming) have increased. There are those that aren’t prepared to continue down that path as factory farmed food does not have the best nutritional value . Food has become very cheap – mostly due to the industrialised food system, but it is also due to competition from cheap imports and from the competition between our two big supermarkets.

Real food does cost more to produce than processed food and that should not be the case. Most of our customers support us because we are local farmers, so I do think that they care about food origins. Unfortunately our customers are only a small sample of society and there are a lot of people that don’t really care. They just want to keep getting cheap food – they don’t understand or want to consider the connection between food and health.

There are recipes on the Dawson Valley Free Range Pork and the Healthy Farming, Healthy Food blogs but do you have a "go to" recipe you'd be prepared to share? 

I don’t really have a “go to” recipe. I really do think that all you need is good quality ingredients. If I’m time poor and that’s most often the case, I plan ahead and put something in the oven or slow cooker. One of my favourite things would be:

Chops (lamb, goat, pork), or chicken pieces - tossed in some aromatics like garlic, chili, herbs and lime juice, then placed on top of sliced potatoes and onions ( a mix of white and sweet potatoes). Depending on the fat content of the meat, I will dot some butter over the top. I then place this in the oven and go outside and do my afternoon jobs! The juices and fat from the meat filter down through the potatoes and adds flavour and keeps them moist. Cooking time would be 2 -3 hours on low or 1.5 hours at moderate.

What is your favourite part of the day? 

I enjoy early mornings or late afternoons. Early mornings milking the cow are always relaxing and I often use this quiet time to plan my day. Late afternoons walking around the pig paddocks is lovely, because the pigs are all relaxed and will stop for a chat – the mornings are frantic because they only want food! I also enjoy bedtime!

What's next for Dawson Valley Free Range Pork? 

We are hoping to increase our production, as we are struggling to meet the demand for our product. We will be engaging our first full time employee soon and we are hoping that this will enable us to expand and to undertake more activities. We want to increase the layers of enterprises – in the short term that will be goats and sheep.

Pigs are very good at improving fertility and our land is now organic certified, so we would like to make organic hay. I can see other enterprises like fruit and nut trees, vegetable crops, as well as meat chickens in the years to come.

Our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner, Melanie Findlay says your pork is really yummy! How can people get your product? 

Our pork is available in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon area by getting our pork, beef and goat direct from us at the Kern Arcade Carpark Markets and the Yeppoon Community Markets. We have been going there twice a month, however recently we have had to reduce this as we are low on product.

The best idea is for people to follow us on Facebook or my Blog to know when we are going to be at the markets. In Gladstone, Daly’s Quality Meats stock our pork. Our pork is available from Sunshine Coast Organic Meats and from Sherwood Road Organic Meats and Milton Fine Meats, both in Brisbane.

Dawson Valley Free Range Blog
Dawson Valley Free Range Facebook

Healthy Farming Healthy Food Blog
Lucy's Kitchen Facebook


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Draft MERCP Regulations

MERCP


The draft Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) ("MERCP") Regulations are up for consultation. You can make a submission and review the new Regulations here
https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/our-department/corporate-information/policies-initiatives/mining-resources/legislative-reforms/mqra/consultation-draft-regulation

We represent Landholders who are affected by mining and gas activities on their land. When negotiations fail, there is a process where a mining or gas company can effect to take a landholder to a mediation or a conference to negotiate the matter before a third party.

The problem currently is that landowners are entitled to have their reasonable and necessary legal fees reimbursed to them for the negotiation of a CCA or Conduct and Compensation Agreement.

Currently there is a gap in the law which says that a legal advisor for a landholder is only allowed to be present at a conference if the other party agrees AND the officer is happy that there is no undue disadvantage to the other party at the conference.  This wording is not desirable because a mining company MUST therefore agree to allow a landholder lawyer to attend the conference.

Usually gas or mining companies are represented at these conferences by legally trained people and if you have ever attended these conferences, there is usually a cast of thousands attending on behalf of the resource company. The balance of power in a meeting, without a lawyer present on behalf of a landholder is undesirable.  The change of just one word in the new Regulations could correct this.

A party must not be represented by a lawyer at the conference unless—
(a) the other party agrees; OR (rather than AND)
(b) the authorised officer is satisfied there is no undue disadvantage to the other party.

Submissions are due on the draft by 12 August 2016.

Contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Draft Land Access Code

New Draft Land Access Code 2016


The new draft Land Access Code 2016 is available for public consultation here
https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/390485/land-access-code.pdf

The usual problems have not been removed from the Code. For example, the wash down provisions regarding weed management are still unfavourable for Landholders.

Part 15 covers the obligations on the parties to prevent spread of declared pests. The usual clause which requires a resource authority holder to “wash down” vehicles and machinery before entering private property remains. However, this is only a requirement if the risk of spreading the pest is likely to be reduced by the wash down.

The first problem is that the method of wash down is not specified and landholders have often advised our office of situations where the holders of a resource authority do not carry proper wash down certificates or certificates from third party wash down facilities.

The second problem is that it is usually the resource holder that decides that it is NOT likely that the pest will be spread.

Under the new Biosecurity Act 2014, landholders now have a higher onus of care placed upon them to make sure that pests and weeds are kept in check on their properties. It would be therefore desirable for the Land Access Code to be tightened up to give landholders the rights to reject dirty or contaminated vehicles and to insist on third party wash down facilities.

If you wish to make a submission regarding the Code or the new Regulations, submissions close on 12 August 2016.

The link to the site containing the new drafts is here:-
https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/our-department/corporate-information/policies-initiatives/mining-resources/legislative-reforms/mqra/consultation-draft-regulation

Contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Cattle Farming and Facebook



The way our rural sector does business is changing. More and more farmers are now marketing and selling their cattle online - our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay shares two recent articles that caught her attention.

Jason Murphy of news.com.au writes about how "buy swap sell" groups are providing dedicated market places with incredible potential in his article Is Facebook about to take over another huge part of the economy? as published on NT News, 7 July 2016.

James Nason writes about how the livestock marketing is changing as a result of social media in his article, Facebook: Another way livestock marketing is changing as published on Beef Central, 13 July 2016.


Calliope Vegetation Management



Our friends at Capricornia Catchments Inc. are hosting a Vegetation Management Information Session in Calliope on Wednesday 27 July 2016.

Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay will join ecosure's Senior Botanist, Geoffrey Sinclair to discuss the existing Vegetation Management Act, the proposed changes and how they may affect you.

This is what Capricornia Catchments Inc. has to say about the information session:
On 17 March 2016, the Government introduced the Vegetation Management (reinstatement) and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, which is currently being considered through the parliamentary committee process.  One of the amendments proposed by the bill is the reintroduction of high value regrowth on freehold land (Cat. C) and regrowth vegetation on watercourse areas (Cat. R) for Great Barrier Reef Catchments.
Geoffrey Sinclaire, Ecosure will bring his understanding of the existing Vegetation Management Act, and the proposed changes and how they can affect your business. Bring your lot and plan details he will be able to identify specific issues to your property.
Melanie Findlay, Rees R and Sydney Jones, will clarify some of the legal implications of vegetation management that currently exist and may arise from the proposed changes.
The Central Bowls Club is located at 21 Drynan Drive, Calliope.

You can book for this event via the Capricornia Catchments Inc. Website  or by contacting Janeen Whiting at Capricornia Catchments Inc. on 07 4921 0573 or admin@capcatchments.org.au.


Monday, 18 July 2016

Water Queensland



Water Queensland invites you...

You are invited to a presentation on the Callide Valley Flood Mitigation Study, Tuesday 19 July 2016 at Banana Civic Centre, Rainbow Street, Biloela from 6.30pm. Light refreshments will be available.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

FMDs & Stamp Duty Exemptions Estate & Succession Planning


It is pleasing to see that both the Federal and Queensland Governments have introduced measures to assist rural clients with tax and stamp duty, to be effective from 1 July 2016.

Strengthening of the Farm Management Deposits Scheme


As you are no doubt aware, increasing the limits on FMDs by doubling them from $400,000 to $800,000 and the use of same as offsets against other farm business loans will be a valuable tax planning and estate planning tool for rural clients.

Strengthening the Stamp Duty Exemptions for inter-family business property transactions for Rural Families


The Queensland government has amended the Duties Act to exempt certain inter-family transaction from Stamp Duty even when monetary consideration passes or when liabilities are assumed.  Prior to 1 July, the exemption was only available for that part of the transaction that was a gift by the transferor to the transferee. So with the changes, provided all of the conditions of the legislation are satisfied, there will be stamp duty exemption on transfers of rural properties and rural businesses (stock and plant) even when the relative acquiring the property is paying for it or taking over the debt of the disposer (transferor).  The exemption is not restricted to transactions between parents and children. The definition of ‘defined relative’ is very wide and will give stamp duty relief to a much wider group of family members e.g. transactions between siblings; uncle/aunt – nephew/nieces etc.

Advice will need to be obtained to assess stamp duty exemption for each proposed family transaction to make sure the exemption applies before embarking on a deal and signing documents.

Both of the above legislative changes are of significant benefit to rural clients with their tax and succession planning.

Please contact Gerard Houlihan or Lauren Farrelly of Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au for any further information.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Qld Government Mining Lease Application Notices as at 6 July 2016



Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 7 July 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.


If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Soil Story

The Soil Story

Our Landowner Lawyer shares an explanation of Soil Sequestration of Carbon in an easy to watch
4 minute clip presented by Kiss the Ground.

You may also be interested in our Landowner Lawyer's previous blog on Carbon Farming.

If you have any queries about carbon farming opportunities that may be available to you, please do not hesitate to contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Team on (07) 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Our Landowner Lawyer's View

Vegetation Management Bill



In this video clip, our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay provides a solicitor's view of  the Agriculture & Environment Parliamentary Committee's recommendations in relation to the proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Bill.

Video clip is courtesy of Sharon Howard, Regional Manager AgForce Central

The Agriculture and Environment Parliamentary Committee have made their recommendations in relation to proposed changes to the Vegetation Management bill. 

We know landowners are outraged at the changes, but what about the legal profession?
Mel: I'm Melanie Findlay, so I'm a partner in the Energy, Environment and Agribusiness section of Rees R & Sydney Jones in Rockhampton.
Reverse Onus of Proof
Mel: Recently the recommendations to parliament have been released in regards to the Vegetation Reinstatement Bill, and the most important one for agriculture would be the reverse onus of proof provision. So there's been a recommendation that that provision be removed, and what that provision said was that you are pretty much guilty until you are proven innocent or until there's evidence in the contrary that you didn't illegally clear. 
It should have never have been in there in the first place because legislation standards say that you are innocent until proven guilty, but what they've done is reverse that onus of proof and it is great to see that they have recommended that that be removed from the Act. 
Mistake of Fact
Mel: The next thing we are going to talk about is the mistake of fact. So, pretty much everyone who has seen their vegetation data would notice that there are probably errors in their mapping. You might rely on a map that you are given by the government and that map might be full of mistakes and the reason why it is full of mistakes is because it has been done at such a large scale. 
So the problem with the mistake of fact issue is that, for example, right now we have got the Early Detection Unit in Rockhampton that are going around looking at satellite data from the last few months and what happens is they pick up that there has been some clearing in an area that they think there shouldn't be clearing according to their mapping. So they will write to a landowner and say "Can you explain why there has been this clearing because we cannot explain it?". The problem is, the landowner then has to run off and they're worried about having to prove that what they did was legal and they come and see me, and my hourly rate is expensive, or they need to go see a botanist or a consultant at an expensive rate and spend money proving that the maps were wrong, and therefore they didn't actually commit an offence.
So what? They never do anything about the maps anyway, do they?
Mel: Apparently so far there have been 86 of these early detection notifications going out and we have had a fair few come through our office. 
What should we be doing with these proposed changes?
Mel: So in my opinion, as a solicitor, I find it really difficult to deal with such a complicated area of law that keeps chopping and changing and landowners were quite happy and frankly people in Brisbane trusted them to deal with the laws as they were in place. So I wouldn't agree with these new amendments coming in because I just think that they are too onerous and too expensive for landowners to deal with.
At the moment there is a real interest in investment in agriculture. We have got the Northern Australia Plan, we are looking at enlivening exports to new markets, and I think we have got to trust the people in the business of agriculture that they know what to do to take care of their land. I think we should stop making things too difficult for them; multiple pieces of paper, exemptions, codes and clearing rules when really people genuinely want to take care of the grass cover and their land in the first place.
In this media release, Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said it was refreshing that the Parliament’s Agriculture and Environment Committee’s unanimously recommended removing a provision under which landholders were to be considered guilty of illegally clearing land until they could prove themselves innocent.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Ag-Grow Emerald Vegetation Information Session

Ag-Grow Emerald Vegetation Information Session

Ag-Grow Emerald Information Session


Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner Melanie Findlay will be at Ag-Grow Emerald from Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 July 2016. Sessions will be held at 10am, 12 noon and 2pm daily.

In conjunction with Ecosure, Melanie will be conducting an information session to inform graziers and landowners of the current vegetation and land clearing laws, the impacts of the SLATS data, what to do if you have illegally cleared and your property is currently under investigation and how to apply for a retrospective clearing permit (additional information is below).

There is also an opportunity to have a topic of your choosing included in this session when you RSVP.

What else would you like information on?
  • Environmental/vegetation offsets
  • Work place health and safety
  • Wills and succession planning
  • Biosecurity/weed management plans
  • Vegetation law/protected plants (trigger mapping)
  • Carbon farming and carbon projects


RSVP ESSENTIAL to Emma Kime on 07 4927 6333 or emmak@reesjones.com.au

Vegetation and Land Clearing Release of Qld Government Data


Earlier this year, the Queensland Government publicly released their Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) data for the 2012 – 2014 period.

The purpose of the Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) is to monitor Queensland's forests and woodlands to assess vegetation extent and clearing activities.

In conjunction with Ecosure Pty Ltd, Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors has conducted inquires and identified areas in Queensland where vegetation and land clearing has occurred.

We are aware that the Department of Natural Resources and Mines on behalf of the Queensland Government will now be in the process of investigating all properties located on the SLATS 2012 – 2014 maps to determine whether vegetation and land clearing was authorised or illegal.

In particular with reference to the SLATS 2012 – 2014 maps, we note that:-
  • Properties covered in darker red and showing higher levels of clearing (500 + hectares) will be the listed for priority investigation by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines; and,
  • Properties covered yellow and orange with less levels of clearing will be subject to investigations by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in due course.



Friday, 24 June 2016

Qld Government Mining Lease Application Notices at at 21 June 2016


Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 21 June 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.

If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Mt Coolon Hotel Vegetation & Land Clearing Information Session

Mt Coolon Hotel Information Session


Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner Melanie Findlay will be at an AgForce hosted event Wednesday 13 July from 10am at the Mt Coolon Hotel, Mt Coolon.

In conjunction with Ecosure, Melanie will be conducting an information session to inform graziers and landowners of the current vegetation and land clearing laws, the impacts of the SLATS data, what to do if you have illegally cleared and your property is currently under investigation and how to apply for a retrospective clearing permit (additional information is below).

There is also an opportunity to have a topic of your choosing included in this session when you RSVP.

What else would you like information on?
  • Environmental/vegetation offsets
  • Work place health and safety
  • Wills and succession planning
  • Biosecurity/weed management plans
  • Vegetation law/protected plants (trigger mapping)
  • Carbon farming and carbon projects

RSVP ESSENTIAL to Emma Kime on 07 4927 6333 or emmak@reesjones.com.au

Vegetation and Land Clearing Release of Qld Government Data


Earlier this year, the Queensland Government publicly released their Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) data for the 2012 – 2014 period.

The purpose of the Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) is to monitor Queensland's forests and woodlands to assess vegetation extent and clearing activities.

In conjunction with Ecosure Pty Ltd, Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors has conducted inquires and identified areas in Queensland where vegetation and land clearing has occurred.

We are aware that the Department of Natural Resources and Mines on behalf of the Queensland Government will now be in the process of investigating all properties located on the SLATS 2012 – 2014 maps to determine whether vegetation and land clearing was authorised or illegal.

In particular with reference to the SLATS 2012 – 2014 maps, we note that:-
  • Properties covered in darker red and showing higher levels of clearing (500 + hectares) will be the listed for priority investigation by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines; and,
  • Properties covered yellow and orange with less levels of clearing will be subject to investigations by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in due course.

Vegetation Clearing Regrowth Laws in Queensland


Vegetation Clearing Regrowth Laws in Queensland

by Geoffrey Sinclair, Senior Botanist, ecosure


Overview of regrowth laws

On the 17 March 2016, the government introduced the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, which is currently being considered through the parliamentary committee process.

One of the amendments proposed by the bill is the reintroduction of high value regrowth on freehold land (Category C), and regrowth vegetation on watercourse areas (Category R) for Great Barrier Reef Catchments.

To see if your property is being affected by the proposed regrowth laws, you can obtain a map of at the following website

The laws governing the proposed regrowth laws have not passed parliament, and are not likely to be decided until August or later this year. However, if it has been decided that the proposed regrowth laws will apply to any clearing/applications that occur after then 17 March 2016.

It is therefore important that before you do any clearing of vegetation, that check to see if your property is affected by the proposed regrowth laws.

For clearing of proposed regrowth that occurred prior to 17 March 2016

There is no requirements for clearing of proposed regrowth areas that occurred prior to the 17 March 2016.

For clearing of proposed regrowth area after the 17 March 2016

Any clearing of proposed regrowth currently or post 17 March 2016 should:
  • Be a clearing exemption, or
  • Meet the self-assessable code for management Category C regrowth (for Category C areas)
  • Meet the self-assessable code for management Category R regrowth (for Category R areas)
You are required to notify the department of Natural Resources and Mines if clearing under a self-assessable code. The department has an automated notification process that you can use., however this system may not work for some tenures and you will need to contact the Department directly if this is the case.

Copies of clearing exemptions are available at

Copies of the self-assessable codes are available at

Errors in the proposed regrowth areas? 

The proposed regrowth areas were not ground checked, and were derived from a satellite image analysis, where basically all areas that had not been cleared in the last 20 years and contained vegetation were mapped as regrowth areas.

This approach has resulted in many errors in identifying regrowth area, in particular it includes many areas of thick grass or orchards that have not been cleared in the past 20 years.

These errors can be fixed using the department’s PMAV process, which is a fairly simply process if the area is devoid of trees or is an orchard. There may be potential for the department to accept these PMAV applications without a fee.

The other thing to be aware of is that the proposed regrowth areas are probably going to be further refined before they are finalised, so some of the errors may be fixed automatically.

What if I have cleared regrowth vegetation after the 17 March 2016?
If the vegetation reinstatement bill is not passed, then nothing will happen.

If the vegetation reinstatement bill is passed, then you may be required to restore the area (as in allow to regrow or plant), and potentially add additional areas.


What about PMAV applications (application to change the vegetation)?

PMAV applications that were submitted prior to the 17 March 2016 will be assessed under normal processes.

PMAV applications that were submitted after 17 March 2016 and do not contain any proposed regrowth vegetation will also be assessed under normal processes.

For PMAV applications that were submitted after the 17 March and do contain proposed regrowth vegetation, the department has identified that they will discuss the issue with the applicant, in general:
  • The department is likely to assess PMAV applications in which all the proposed regrowth on the lot is mapped incorrectly.
  • If parts of the lot are regrowth, it is likely that the department will have to delay processing the PMAV until the laws have been finalised, or come to another agreement with the applicant.

Geoffrey Sinclair can be contacted on (07) 4994 1000

Rookwood Weir - Additional Information


Additional Information to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement


The Gladstone Area Water Board and SunWater Limited have prepared additional information to the draft environmental impact statement (AEIS) for the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project.

You can view this information here.

You are able to make a submission to the AEIS here. Submissions close at 5pm on 27 June 2016.

If you would like any further information or assistance with a submission, contact Melanie Findlay on (07) 4927 6333.

Rookwood Weir Funding Update Sessions




Melanie Findlay was asked to speak to landowners affected by the Rookwood Weir at two AgForce organised sessions this week. They were held at Duaringa for landowners affected by the proposed Rookwood Weir site and Alton Downs for those affected by the Eden Bann raising. There were representatives from Agforce, Sunwater, GAWB and the Lower Fitzroy Infrastructure Project EIS Project Team also in attendance. Lachlan Miller MP also popped in for a chat at the Alton Downs meeting.

Melanie said

“The sessions were well attended and received. It was good to see more communication being received by affected landowners. As well as being concerned about impending easement resumptions, landowners were particularly concerned about the price of water once the infrastructure is built.”

The Additional Information Statement Project was released in May and submissions in regard to this are open until 27 June 2016. Geraldine Squires from the project team invited landowners to update their contact details with the project team and to make submissions if they so wished. She also advised attendees about the contents of previous submissions and landowner concerns that had already been received.

The most stressful or pressing question that a property owner has when they are affected by an impending resumption is:-

“What do I do with my property in the meantime. Do I develop it and continue to invest in my land or what do I do whilst in limbo?”

Melanie Findlay advised attendees that you cannot put your life on hold. The date of the resumption is the date which a Valuer will use to value your property. If you do not continue to work and use your property as you normally would, then that value will be lower. These projects have been on the cards for some years and you cannot simply sit on your hands and wait for the resumption notice to come. Project dates change, extend and move. Carry on with your life, keep a diary of what the project employees say and do over the years. There are also hardship provisions under the Acquisition of Land Act which can be used in certain circumstances.

If you wish to hear more about the process for the Weirs, contact Melanie Findlay on (07) 4927 6333 or enquire@reesjones.com.au.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Rookwood & Eden Bann Weir Update


Melanie Findlay will be speaking at two AgForce Events on Thursday 23 June.

  1. Duaringa Golf Club at 10am
  2. Alton Downs Hall at 3pm

Other speakers include Geraldine Squires from the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project Team and Ralph Woolley from the Gladstone Area Water Board.

RSVP to Sharon Howard by email to howards@agforceqld.org.au

Monday, 30 May 2016

Mining Lease Application Notices as at 26 May 2016



Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 26 May 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.

If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Rookwood Weir Funding


Rookwood Weir Funding - more questions than answers

Whilst anything that supports Agriculture is welcomed by Central Queensland locals, the Rookwood Weir $130M funding announcement may have came as a surprise to those that will be directly impacted by the effects of the infrastructure.

Late last year meetings with Landholders affected by the Weir as well as Eden Bann were held across CQ. Whilst most landholders were happy with the possible opportunities the Weirs could create two very important issues were debated and are still being debated now.

Firstly, landholders directly affected by the Weir by possibly inundation easements were quite surprised at the lack of notice and consultation in regard to the EIS process.

Agforce invited landholders to attending meetings in August last year at Alton Downs and Duaringa to discuss and find out more information about the Weir Projects. At these meetings, some Landowners commented that they were only alerted to the EIS process and the possible impacts to their properties by their local Agforce representative. GHD EIS Consultant, Geraldine Squires, at the meeting for Eden Bann advised that Landholders had been written to, although many at that meeting advised her that they had not received notices and that further they had not heard from any Weir representatives for some years. The audience at both the meetings held at both Alton Downs and Duaringa last year made it very clear that more consultation about the project was necessary. The words “Inundation” and “Resumption” are not nice words to hear and the key to keeping landholders positive in regard to these projects is more consultation.

Secondly, landholders have queried on more than one occasion how much water will cost once the infrastructure is built. A real problem for Landholders is the affordability of water allocations, electricity and irrigation equipment. Members of the Eden Bann meeting in Alton Downs expressed their concerns that once the price of water is fixed and advertised, it may then increase and be unaffordable. The same query was asked of the political hosts of the public consultation meeting held on 28 October 2015 . That query was never answered.

Funding for Agriculture is always welcomed in CQ, but more information and guidance for Landholders is required. If you have any queries about the EIS process, the process of land resumptions or require advice in regard to these projects please do not hesitate to contact Melanie Findlay of the Energy, Environment and Agribusiness Team at Rees R & Sydney Jones.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Theodore Bowls Club Vegetation and Land Clearing Information Session

Theodore Bowls Club Vegetation Information Session

Theodore Bowls Club Information Session


Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner Melanie Findlay will be at an AgForce hosted event this Friday 3 June from 10am at the Theodore Bowls Club, Theodore.

In conjunction with Ecosure, Melanie will be conducting an information session to inform graziers and landowners of the current vegetation and land clearing laws, the impacts of the SLATS data, what to do if you have illegally cleared and your property is currently under investigation and how to apply for a retrospective clearing permit (additional information is below).

There is also an opportunity to have a topic of your choosing included in this session when you RSVP.

What else would you like information on?
  • Environmental/vegetation offsets
  • Work place health and safety
  • Wills and succession planning
  • Biosecurity/weed management plans
  • Vegetation law/protected plants (trigger mapping)
  • Carbon farming and carbon projects

Rees R & Sydney Jones will be providing a BBQ lunch after the session.

RSVP ESSENTIAL to Emma Kime on 07 4927 6333 or emmak@reesjones.com.au

Vegetation and Land Clearing Release of Qld Government Data


Earlier this year, the Queensland Government publicly released their Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) data for the 2012 – 2014 period.

The purpose of the Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) is to monitor Queensland's forests and woodlands to assess vegetation extent and clearing activities.

In conjunction with Ecosure Pty Ltd, Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors has conducted inquires and identified areas in Queensland where vegetation and land clearing has occurred.

We are aware that the Department of Natural Resources and Mines on behalf of the Queensland Government will now be in the process of investigating all properties located on the SLATS 2012 – 2014 maps to determine whether vegetation and land clearing was authorised or illegal.

In particular with reference to the SLATS 2012 – 2014 maps, we note that:-
  • Properties covered in darker red and showing higher levels of clearing (500 + hectares) will be the listed for priority investigation by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines; and,
  • Properties covered yellow and orange with less levels of clearing will be subject to investigations by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in due course.



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Queensland Government Restores Landowner & Community Rights on Mining!

Landowner & Community Rights Restored


On Tuesday 24 May 2016, the Queensland Government restored balance between the rights of farmers, miners, and the community by passing legislation that protects farm infrastructure and restores community objection rights.

The Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill restores the rights of landowners and community members to object to proposed mining projects and protect key agricultural infrastructure.

Landowners 


This Bill provides Landowners with
"a minimum 50 metre protection zone around key agricultural infrastructure such as principal stockyards, bores and artesian wells, dams and artificial water storages connected to a water supply; 
the right to prevent any mining lease being granted over restricted land without the consent of the owner; and, the security of knowing ministers cannot extinguish restricted status for their land – a power a minister would have had under the LNP’s proposed laws."1

Community Members


This Bill provides Community Members at large with the opportunity
"to have their say on mining lease and environmental authority applications for mining projects to be advised of any proposed mining projects through ads in newspapers."2
The above changes are set to come into affect from 27 September 2016.

View the Queensland Government Statement regarding the passing of this Bill.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss this Bill further, please do not hesitate to contact Rees R & Sydney Jones Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner, Melanie Findlay on (07) 4927 6333.

[1] Queensland Government, 'Govt restores farmer & community rights on mining' (24 May 2016) <http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2016/5/24/govt-restores-farmer--community-rights-on-mining>.
[2] Ibid.



Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Information Session - Belmont Station Rockhampton


Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner Melanie Findlay will be at an AgForce hosted event at Belmont Station Rockhampton this Thurday 26 May from 10am.

Melanie will be conducting an information session on Vegetation and Land Clearing in conjunction with Ecosure Pty Ltd. Rees R & Sydney Jones will be providing a BBQ lunch after the session. 


There is also an opportunity to have a topic of your choosing included in this session, just let Emma know when you RSVP on (07) 4927 6333 or emmak@reesjones.com.au


Clermont Show




Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner, Melanie Findlay and Wills & Estates Associate, Lauren Farrelly are at the Clermont Show today and tomorrow.

You can find Mel and Lauren at the Rees R & Sydney Jones stand which is located in the Pavilion with the boarding school displays, near the chickens. Don't forget to pop in and say hello! 

Rees R & Sydney Jones are proud sponsors of the Clermont Show.



Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Mining Lease Application Notices as at 16 May 2016


Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 16 May 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.


If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Monday, 9 May 2016

Mining Lease Application Notices as at 6 May 2016



Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 6 May 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.


If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Mining Lease Application Notices as at 29 April 2016


Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Noticesas at 29 April 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.


If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

PASSED: Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016


Energy, Environment & Agriculture Partner, Melanie Findlay has been closely following the proposed changes to the Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016.

From identifying concerns with regards to the wording of "related persons" in the draft bill to speaking at the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee's examination of the Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, Melanie has been supporting landowner's rights.

On 21 April 2016, the State Government passed the Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016 which protects landowners rights.

Queensland Law Society President Bill Potts has been quoted as saying
"It would have been an injustice for these people [landowners] to have been potentially responsible for the environmental clean-up of projects on their land, especially if it wasn't of their choosing."
"QLS is also pleased that a statutory guideline is to be developed to constrain the use of these powers and best direct them to ensuring polluters clean up their own mess." 
Read the full media release "QLS says environmental clean-up reform amendments a win for Queensland".


Friday, 22 April 2016

Mining Lease Application Notices as at 22 April 2016


Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 22 April 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.

If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.





Underground Coal Gasification Banned in Queensland: 18 April 2016



The Palaszczuk Government has moved to ban underground coal gasification because of its environmental impact.

State Development Minister and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham announced the immediate ban today and committed to introducing a legislated ban before the end of the year.

"The potential risks to Queensland’s environment and our valuable agricultural industries far outweigh any potential economic benefits...
The ban applies immediately as government policy, and I will introduce legislation to the Parliament by the end of the year to make it law."

View the full Media Statement.

Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016 - Update


On 1 April 2016, Energy, Environment & Agriculture Partner, Melanie Findlay wrote of concerns with the wording of “related persons” in the draft Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016. "What do the proposed Environmental Protection Bill changes mean to landowners?"

Melanie recently spoke at the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee's examination of the Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. The transcript of proceedings has since been released.

The Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016 Report  from the Parliamentary Committee concerning examination of the Bill was tabled on the 15 April 2016.

From this report it is clear the committee has noticed that there are severe drafting problems in regard to the width of the definition of “related persons”. They acknowledge that it is undesirable to have an owner of land covered by the new legislation and have recommended to the House that subsection 363AB(1)(b) in clause 7 be omitted from the Bill.

We will advise if the House follows this recommendation as soon as word comes to hand.