Land Access Negotiation Tips
All resource companies undertaking gas exploration and development activities in Queensland must comply with the State’s land access laws.
Resource companies accessing private land to undertake ‘advanced activities‘, must negotiate with the landholder[s] on a land access agreement, commonly known as a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA).
To assist landholders, the GasFields Commission has developed a ‘Negotiating a Conduct and Compensation Agreement‘ Fact Sheet containing 7 tips for land access negotiations. While every negotiation and landholder is different, these 7 tips are important to keep in mind.
1. Take Time
All landholders are ‘time poor’ running their rural businesses, but it is important to commit some time up front to understand the resource company you are dealing with and their proposed timeline and program for undertaking proposed activities on your property. There is a mandated timeline set out in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 and the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Regulation 2016 for the parties to complete the negotiation of a CCA. Take time to work with the resource company to plan the layout and location of infrastructure on your property. Taking time up front to get your ‘advisory team’ in place is also critical. Time is money for landholders and it’s possible to be compensated for this time as part of your negotiations on disruption to your business.
2. Get Advice
Land access is a complex negotiation that requires a good understanding of a wide range of disciplines including resource industry law and regulation, land valuation, natural resource economics and accounting. It is important you pull together your own ‘advisory team’ and ensure they have the relevant skills and experience to effectively represent your interests. Talk to neighbours and friends who have successfully negotiated a CCA and draw from their experience. Under Queensland’s land access legislative framework the resource company must pay the landholder the negotiation and preparation costs they have necessarily and reasonably incurred in entering or seeking to enter into a CCA.
3. Keep Talking
Like all negotiations, land access negotiations can hit roadblocks and get stressful or frustrating at times. That’s when it is important that both sides keep communicating to try to better understand each other’s points of view and identify possible solutions for a way forward. This is also when your ‘advisory team’, who are experienced in negotiating with resource companies, can make a big difference.
4. Think Business-To-Business
It is important to treat negotiations with resource companies like any other any other business partnership. Focus on opportunities to diversify your business and positively align resource company activities with your business plans. Changing your mindset and approach to consider this as a business-to-business negotiation can sometimes help you to focus on potential opportunities for you and your business rather than just thinking about negative impacts and compensation.
5. Use Your Property Plan
Every landholder should have a documented plan for the future development of their property. It is important this plan is on the table when undertaking land access negotiations, to ensure that the resource company is well aware of your intentions for the future development of the property and your rural business. Provide maps of your property detailing all infrastructure, no-go zones, production cycles and any biosecurity risks. There may be opportunities within the negotiations for the resource company to better align their proposed infrastructure and to potentially share or contribute to some of the costs of your planned property development.
6. Measure Baseline Impacts
Land access negotiations are required to accommodate and compensate for any relevant impacts and disturbances to the underlying rural business. To help quantify and measure those impacts over time it is critical that you as the landholder keep a simple record of the state of your land, soils, pastures, weeds, vegetation, roads and rural infrastructure before and after the resource company undertakes activities on your land. This will help quantify and measure impacts and disturbance to your business over time. Photographs can provide a useful record as well as using the services of agronomists or natural resource management specialists.
7. Key Contacts
In addition to your personal and professional advisory team there are other resources available including State Government compliance and regulatory agencies who are empowered to monitor the activities of resource companies operating within Queensland’s onshore gas industry, such as the Resource Community Infoline. The Commission recommends landholders to seek the details of key contacts, such as your local compliance officer[s], via the Department of Resources: