This week’s commencement of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (MERCPA) in Queensland comes after a long two-year wait since the Act was passed.
‘The Act includes a set of complex legislative amendments over a range of areas of resource legislation including land access and changes to the restricted land framework,’ Mr Roche said.
‘The Act also provides for a new coal and coal seam gas overlapping tenure framework in Queensland. This new framework will help unlock areas for optimal co-development and maximise the resources extracted on behalf of the state.
‘Many Queensland tenures are overlapping, including in the resource-rich Bowen Basin and today’s commencement of the Act will provide a process that reduces delay to get access to the ground and start activities.’
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CEO Mr Michael Roche said the new act provides a default agreement where parties could not otherwise come to an agreement.
‘QRC has been working with its members on the new overlapping tenure framework for more than five years and without their ongoing support and commitment this new framework would not have been possible,’ Mr Roche said.
‘The Act also amends the land access process by placing an obligation on resource companies to register on title Conduct and Compensation Agreements made with landholders. QRC supports this amendment given it may allow people to be more informed about likely resource activity on the land.
‘The creation of an opt-out agreement is also a welcome initiative, after it was recommended through several previous reviews to offer another choice to parties that seek a flexible approach without removing the existing right to compensate for impacts.
‘The intent of the voluntary opt-out agreement is to simplify the process of two willing parties who wish to strike an agreement outside a structured regime.
‘Importantly the opt-out agreement includes a series of protections to ensure this new flexible option is not used in a way that disadvantages either party.’
An information sheet on the opt-out agreement has to be provided to the landholder and there is also a 10-day cooling off period.
QRC Media Release, 27 September 2016