The NT Government has again been accused of failing to implement all the promised safeguards for any onshore shale gas industry.
The issue of land access agreements for energy companies wanting to exploit shale gas in the Territory remains a controversial issue.
Many groups want a formal process which would include compensation talks before the companies can enter pastoral leases and Native Title lands and start drilling.
The NT Government is accused of ignoring a key recommendation of the Pepper scientific inquiry to enshrine land access in law, instead proposing to do it by regulation.
The NT Parliament is considering the legal framework for an onshore gas industry.
A public hearing will be held on the Petroleum Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2019 on March 2.
Already there are a number of submissions to the Parliament saying the new Bill fails to incorporate land access arrangements.
The Pepper inquiry stated - "That a statutory land access agreement be required by legislation. That prior to undertaking any onshore shale gas activity on a Pastoral Lease (including but not limited to any exploration or production activity), a land access agreement must be negotiated and signed by the Pastoral Lessee and the gas company. That breach of the land access agreement be a breach of the relevant exploration or production approval giving rise to the onshore shale gas activity being carried out on the land".
In their joint submission on the proposed Bill, the Northern Land Council and Central Land Council said: "One of the key issues identified in the Final Report (Pepper Inquiry) was a lack of trust in the both the Government and the petroleum industry and a lack of confidence in the current regulatory framework to adequately manage the multitude of risks associated with the development of an onshore shale gas industry in the NT."
The joint submission says the Government must follow through on its promise to implement all the recommendations of the Pepper Inquiry in full.
"Many of the recommendations are only implemented in part, which seriously undermines the risk mitigation which the recommendations aim to enforce on hydraulic fracturing. This creates an unacceptable risk for Territorians and the environment."
The councils want to hold further talks with the Government about land access arrangements between the energy companies and native title holders.
A submission of behalf of six station owners under the name Protect Country Alliance says: "We state that the Bill does not have sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of individuals in the NT because it does not enshrine our legal right to a land access agreement."
The submission from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association welcomed the inclusion of land access agreements by regulation.
"APPEA welcomes this progress and recognises that both the pastoral industry and mineral and energy industries depend on access to land in order to encourage investment and deliver outcomes for the community, investors and the NT economy."
Lock the Gate Alliance, in its submission, also raised the issue of land access agreements as directed by the Pepper Inquiry.
"The Bill also doesnt propose a statutory obligation for a land access agreement to be in place prior to activities commencing, contrary to the explicit language in the Inquiry report," its submission states.
"There must be a clear legal requirement in the Act for a land access agreement to be in place before any activities take place."
The legislation is to be considered by the Parliament's Legislation Scrutiny Committee before it is debated in Parliament later this year.
Energy companies are currently drilling in the Beetaloo to explore for gas reserves with any actual gas industry expected to still be years away.
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