Case of blind farmer shows mining access laws need balance

MEDIA RELEASE – 11 October 2011

Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has called on Barry O’Farrell to urgently look into changing mining access laws to restore balance between landholders and mining companies after farmer Ian Moore has been forced to appeal to the Land and Environment Court after an arbitrated access decision threatens his livelihood.

Farmer Ian Moore has become legally blind but runs his family farm near Jerrys Plains in the Hunter Valley.   He is able to continue farming because he knows his property so well, having farmed it for decades.  He can not move to another farm. NuCoal has dragged Mr Moore through arbitration over the right to access his land for exploratory drilling, and now Mr Moore has been forced to appeal the decisions in the Land and Environment Court.

“The case of Ian Moore highlights that current access laws under the Mining and Petroleum Acts are totally unbalanced, giving the mining companies the whip hand,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Premier can and must intervene to restore balance to access arrangements between landholders and mining companies.

“The owner’s use of the land above ground must be given significant weighting when assessing the right to explore for the Crown’s resources below ground.

“Severe disruption to a farmer’s operations, such as in the case of Mr Moore, should be taken seriously by the law.  Mining companies should not have the right to force their way onto a property at any cost.

“More and More farmers are joining the Lock the Gate Alliance to protect their farms, and Australia’s food security, from the grasp of coal and gas companies.

“Tony Abbott recognised  the unbalanced nature of access under Mining laws before he back-flipped and handed the issue back to the states.

“Now Barry O’Farrell must take up the task to restore balance.  It’s not good enough to hide behind a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy while farmers like Mr Moore are having their lives turned upside down,” he said.

NuCoal’s Doyles Creek coal mine was controversially approved by former Labor Minister Ian McDonald on Christmas Eve 2009.  Former National Secretary of the CFMEU, John Maitland had a significant holding in the mine as does Nick Farr-Jones investment company Taurus Funds Management Pty Ltd.

Contact: Max Phillips 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


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