The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers) seeks the introduction of an ‘agricultural impact assessment’ process in the evaluation of potential mining or industrial development in farming areas, as part of its 2013 Western Australia State Election Policy.
WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said there was a real and immediate need for greater protection of agricultural land against the obvious difference between the activities conducted on agricultural, mining, industrial, peri-urban and residential land.
“Much like exists for environmental impact assessment, WAFarmers is seeking support for the development of a legislated ‘agricultural impact assessment’ to review the economic, environmental and social considerations of change of land use applications, in rurally zoned areas,” Mr Park said.
“WAFarmers is also seeking legislative amendments which deliver ‘the power of veto’ to at least the State’s Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967, Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969 and Mining Act 1978.
“This legislative change will prevent farmers being adversely affected by drilling activities as it has been our experience these could have been avoided if proper consultation and access negotiations had taken place from the outset.”
WAFarmers is aware of increased interest in the extraction of Western Australia’s considerable reserves of unconventional gas deposits, some of which is situated under prime agricultural lands and that considerable Royalties for Regions funds into the search for gas deposits on these agricultural lands has been invested.
Mr Park said in an environment where the mining for unconventional gas deposits was increasing; WAFarmers was seeking greater legal protection for farm businesses.
“The State’s farmers have a very powerful tool at their disposal in terms of Section 29 of the Mining Act 1978 which states that mining tenements cannot be granted without the consent in writing of the owner and occupier of private land where agricultural pursuits are being carried out,” he said.
“WAFarmers strongly supports the farmers’ right of veto and it has been our experience that the failure of land planning to take into account agricultural management practices frequently leads to conflict,” Mr Park concluded.