Resource authority holders requiring conduct and compensation agreements for access to land should immediately consider the impacts of the recently commenced land access regime, including the new avenues available to resource authority holders and landholders to obtain a binding determination of compensation and potential delays to access.
Commencement of amendments to MERCPA
The remaining provisions of the Mineral, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018 (MWOLA) were proclaimed into force last Friday, 19 April 2019. These provisions amend the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (MERCPA) and introduce the new land access regime (New Regime).
Under the New Regime, there are now two avenues available to resource authority holders and landholders if they fail to negotiate a conduct and compensation agreement during the statutory negotiation period – binding arbitration (if all parties agree) or Land Court determination.
There are also changes to the time periods provided in the statutory process, which, in most cases, in the absence of agreement, will lead to delays to access to the land.
Impact of the New Regime on current negotiations
The New Regime will not apply in circumstances where an election notice for a conference or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has been given prior to 19 April 2019 and the conference or ADR has not been completed prior to 19 April 2019. In such circumstances, the previous land access regime will continue to apply to the conference or ADR and any Land Court proceeding, whether started before or after 19 April 2019, that relate to the concerns the subject of the conference or ADR.
Resource authority holders must consider any current negotiations with landholders, having regard to the transitional arrangements, in order to determine whether the New Regime applies.
Further, all resource authority holders required to negotiate a CCA with private landholders will need to be aware of the associated options available to determine compensation, including the changes to the statutory negotiation time periods. As a result, many resource authority holders may need to make significant changes to their previous land access strategies to accommodate the New Regime, including the timing requirements to access land.