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.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Draft Surat Underground Water Impact Report 2016

Draft Surat Underground Water Impact Report 2016
Picture: Department of Natural Resources and Mines

Surat Cumulative Management Area: Draft Surat Underground Water Impact Report 2016

The Queensland Government and Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) have recently released the draft Surat Underground Water Impact Report 2016.

The draft Report updates the Underground Water Impact Report 2012 and incorporates new knowledge and uses a new and different groundwater flow model to predict the future impacts.

You can view a summary of the draft Report and the full Report at:- https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/ogia/surat-underground-water-impact-report

Public Consultation and Information Sessions & Submissions

The OGIA are calling for interested parties to take part in public consultation and information sessions and prepare a written submission.

Public consultation and information sessions are being held throughout Queensland in April at Wandoan, Roma, Chinchilla, Dalby and Toowoomba.

Written submissions are due by 5pm on 29 April 2016. Written submissions will then be considered by the OGIA and a final report to the Chief Executive of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection will be prepared.

For more information on the call for submissions or the public consultation and information sessions, please see the following link:- https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/ogia/surat-underground-water-impact-report/public-consultation.

If you have any queries about the draft Report or would like assistance to prepare your written submission, please do not hesitate to contact our Energy, Environment and Agribusiness Team on (07) 4927 6333.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Land-use change and sustainability scenario, Australia 2013 - 2050

Our Landowner Lawyer found this animated YouTube clip on the CSIRO site. 

It depicts "the economic potential for land-use change and the impact on economic and environmental sustainability." and has been supplied by Brett Bryan. 

Brett Bryan is the author of a previous article shared by The Landowner Lawyer on 1 April 2016 "Farming in 2050: storing carbon could help meet Australia's climate goals".

Of particular interest is the huge predicted growth of carbon plantings (pale blue on the map). As the years progress, the area of carbon plantings increase along with the economic returns. Crop and livestock demand increases as does the carbon price, while oil and electricity prices level out.

Our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team would be happy to talk to you about how you can use Carbon Planting as an alternative on-farm income source.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

PCAS Accreditation for Local Beef Producers


Beef Producers Jack and Emma Groat recently featured on the front page of Queensland Country Life when their decision to extend the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS) accreditation to their new operation at "Lorraine", Roma made news.

Already European Union Cattle (EU) accredited, Jack and Emma believe gaining PCAS accreditation for "Lorraine" should be a smooth process.

PCAS accreditation will give the Groat family more flexibility in the management of their cattle, with Jack quoted as stating:
"Under PCAS you can't let your cattle go onto oats once it comes out in head but that's not really a big deal because if your oats is out in head it usually means its a pretty good season so we can always use that crop and turn the cattle off into the EU system. The two markets aren't mutually exclusive.....being accredited for both means we can target whoever has the best money on the day. The more markets you can access the more control you have over your profits."
The Queensland Country Life article "PCAS delivers flexibility" was written by Penelope Arthur and published by Queensland Country Life on Thursday February 11, 2016.

Friday, 1 April 2016

What do the proposed Environmental Protection Bill changes mean to landowners?

Environmental Protection

Rees R & Sydney Jones Energy, Environmental & Agribusiness Partner, Melanie Findlay discusses what the proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection (chain of responsibility) Bill 2016 may mean to landowners in Environmental Protection Bill Catches Landowners.

Environmental Offsets with Melanie Findlay

Audio - Environmental Offsets with Melanie Findlay

Environmental Offsets

Below is a transcript of Melanie Findlay’s interview with Aaron Stevens of 990 4RO from Monday 29 February.

Yeah, so we thought it would be good to get information out to Landowners. That is a bit of a passion of mine, to get the information out before things go wrong and just generally inform people about changes in legislation or opportunities because rural isn’t rural anymore in the legal world.

Yeah, it’s all changing, isn’t it?

Yes, yes.

Well, that’s great. So, Mel is going to join us regularly, give us some advice. If you have got any questions that you would like to raise, feel free to call anytime, 4922 7990, and maybe we can pass those questions onto you?

Yep, happy to answer questions.

So question number one, the one we are going to address today, tell me a little bit about environmental offsets and income opportunities in that area?

I guess for Landowners, the opportunities exist when a developer is say going to knock down some Brigalow or some kind of habitat for an animal or something because they need to build a coal mine. Or someone in Yeppoon, for example, might be going to put up a development and knock down some kind of special tree. So what the government says is, “You have knocked down this special habitat or tree over here, you need to go find it somewhere else and manage it and save it”. So, what happens is Landowners get approached, or used to get approached by brokers, and they would be looked at from some desk in Brisbane and they would say, “Oh, there is some Brigalow here,” looking at a SatNav map or whatever and the broker would contact the Landowner and say “Hey, are you interested in providing an offset for this project?”

I guess the big change in this area of law though is we don’t need the broker anymore. So what the government has said is, are you interested in an environmental offset? You can now register in advance. So, you just lodge some forms on the Department’s website and you can say yeah, I am interested in providing an offset and the financial incentives for the offset’s pretty good. They are well above market value for land rates. And, I guess it is taking that middle man out of the job with these advanced offsets.

So where would someone go for that sort of information?

There is a couple of places. So we can obviously help out with the forms. They are not that hard, so you can go on to the Department’s website or we can even give you the form numbers to download and if you think that you have a certain type of Brigalow or some kind of special regrowth, perhaps you would like to get a botanist or someone out to come have a look at it and we can also help you with consultancy in that area.

Isn’t that good, cause I imagine that would be the toughest part. I mean, you might think that there is something worth protecting but you are not going to know until you go through the processes.

Yeah, there is actually mapping as well available. So certain properties of higher value for offsets are available, we just need to pull the data out to check that your property is one of those.

Alright, if someone is after more information and would like to contact you about obtaining that information or the paperwork, what do they do?

They can go onto the Rees Jones website and have a look, we have written a few articles about it. Or they can give me a ring on 4927 6333. I have got a little blog as well which has got some articles specific for just Landowners that you can find through the Rees Jones website as well.

Terrific, what’s that address?


Mel, a pleasure. Looking forward to catching up with you again soon.

Thank you.

Carbon Farming

Our Landowner Lawyer came across a very interesting article, Farming in 2050: storing carbon could help meet Australia's climate goals written by Brett Anthony Bryan and published on the Australian CSIRO blog.

"Agriculture, and particularly livestock, is currently a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. But new markets and incentives could make storing carbon or producing energy from land more profitable than farming, and turn our agricultural land into a carbon sink."
"What is it that Australians really want from our land? We know what we don’t want: wall-to-wall crops, pasture, buildings, gas wells, mines, wind farms or trees.
We can expect healthy debate around the margins, but, in general, diversity, productivity and sustainability seem to be widely valued. Most of us want to leave the place in decent condition for future generations."
If you have any queries about carbon farming opportunities that may be available to you, please do not hesitate to contact our Energy, Environment and Agribusiness Team on (07) 49276333 or at enquire@reesjones.com.au.

You may also be interested in a previous article written by our Energy, Environment and Agribusiness Team Carbon Emissions.