The Queensland Government recently announced that it will release a further 395 square kilometres of land in the Surat Basin region of southwest Queensland for further gas development.

This announcement comes on the back of the Government’s commitment earlier this year to release 58 square kilometres of land in the same region.

If your land is within the proposed land release area, it’s important to understand your rights when it comes to dealing with resource companies.

Before entering private land to carry out relevant exploration activities, resource companies must comply with land access laws and follow set procedures.

The requirements imposed on resource companies will vary depending on whether the activities being carried out are:

  1. preliminary activities; or
  2. advanced activities.

Preliminary activities

Preliminary activities are activities that have no impact or only a minor impact on the land use or business activities of a landholder and include:

  • walking the area of a permit;
  • driving along an existing road or track;
  • taking soil or water samples;
  • geophysical surveying not involving site preparation;
  • aerial, electrical or environmental surveying; or
  • survey pegging.

Before entering land to carry out any preliminary activities, the resource company must give a written notice to each landholder at least 10 business days prior to entry. Resource companies must comply with the mandatory conditions of the Land Access Code when carrying out authorised activities on a landholder’s land.

Advanced activities

Advanced activities are activities that will have greater than ’minor’ impact on the land or business activities and include:

  • levelling of drilling pads and digging sumps;
  • bulk sampling;
  • constructing an exploration camp, concrete pad, sewage or water treatment facility or fuel dump;
  • geophysical surveying with physical clearing;
  • carrying out a seismic survey using explosives;
  • constructing a track or access road; or
  • changing a fence line.

Before a resource company can enter land to carry out advanced activities, a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) must be signed, unless the landowner agrees to defer or opt out of such an agreement.

CCAs set out the activities or conduct proposed to be undertaken by the resource company, along with agreed compensation measures that are to be paid for any impacts on the land or business as a result of the resource related activity. As part of any agreement, the relevant resource company is required to pay the landholder’s reasonable legal expenses. You should seek legal advice before signing any agreement for access to your land.