Landowners : deny access to the oil & gas companies
Neither a permit under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 or a consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 issued by local authorities give a right of access to land. Read “Oil and Gas in Taranaki – Legal Framework”, prepared by EDS – Environment Defence Society, to understand the rights of landowners and affected parties, and the legal processes involved in denying access to oil and gas companies.
Article 53 of the Act specifies that an access arrangement must be made (except for minimum impact activity) either (a) agreed in writing between the permit holder and each owner and occupier of the land; or (b) determined by an arbitrator.
Article 55 lists the restrictions whereby an arbitrator shall not be entitled to determine an access arrangement (e.g. land subject to a covenant, land under crop, land within 30 m of a stockyard, orchard or shelter belt…, land equal or less than 4.05ha…). These will likely provide the only way out of arbitration – so seriously consider planting lines of fruit trees / grapevines or shelter belts across your property.
Article 58 addresses issues of disputes re the class of land or activity (“minimum impact” or not).
Article 66 describes the process when a landowner or occupier refuses to enter into an access arrangement. Beware that even if you say no the whole way through, the final advice will almost certainly be made by the Minister of Energy who will recommend arbitration to go ahead on the ground of “public interest”.
Article 76 lists the compensations landowners/occupiers are entitled to.
Article 73 states that the costs on each party and the arbitrator in relation to the hearing shall be borne by the person desiring access (i.e. the permit holders / companies). So by all means, seek legal advice, take your time, lock the gate!
Beware that oil/gas company contractors are often sent to individual’s doors with a consent form they “have to sign” and a cheque. This tactic ignores the landowners/occupiers’ full rights to refuse or full information to negotiate. Note that access deals are increasingly favoring companies. Once you sign you have no more rights unless you can argue that you were treated unfairly or that you have been misled. Never sign a confidentiality agreement – no where in the CMA allows companies to require such an agreement. Don’t let yourself be bullied or talked into an agreement without assessing the potential losses and risks involved.
Consider the Eight Good Reasons for Farmers to Lock the Gate:
- You may be subjected to unacceptable noise, light and traffic from vehicle movements, heavy machinery and burning flares 24/7.
- Your soil and water may become contaminated and permanently damaged by toxic chemicals.
- The health of your family and livestock may be at risk.
- Your groundwater supply may be adversely affected.
- Your property value may fall and farm insurance become insecure.
- You may lose control of your day‐to‐day property management.
- Your community and social well-being may change forever.
- You may regret not to have supported the transition to renewable energy.
Are these risks worth taking?
Shockingly, neighbours, drill rig staff and communities have very little rights at present because the local councils can deem them unaffected. This needs to be challenged. Read Tikorangi landowners’ first hand experience at “Living in petrochemical heartland“.
FMG Insurance recently said they will not insure farms with fracking operations onsite : “Our Underwriters have confirmed we exclude cover of Fracking and anything related to this activity. Fracking is outside of FMG’s preferred risk profile and is not something we would be willing to cover as we do not insure any risks relating to the mining industry.” (2 Sept 2013)
The Lock the Gate movement is going strong in Australia where landowners are organized to refuse access to oil/gas/mining companies to their land. Read the many media story on Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton’s visit to NZ in Aug/Sept, such as “Best Coal under Best Land” and “Resisting oil’s hard sell“.
Where in the world is fracking banned or under moratorium?
An up to date list of all countries or states with bans or moratoriums on fracking can be found here.