Mining threat to farmland rights

27 Nov, 2002 10:00 PM
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ANGRY farmers have warned the State Government it would face fierce opposition if it agreed to abolish farmers' rights to prevent mining activity on farmland.

The recommendation by Labor MLA John Bowler to remove veto rights from farmers was made within a 137-page report, which detailed problems associated with declining mining activity in WA.

But farm groups have become incensed about a recommendation to change the Mining Act to "overcome the right of veto to exploration on private land".

Despite the inclusion in the recommendation to make the changes under consultation with agricultural lobby groups, discussions have already hit a brick wall.

WAFarmers Federation president Colin Nicholl said farmers' right to veto was the only option farmers had to negotiate when mining companies wanted to undertake exploration.

He urged farmers to be aware of the statuary rights they held under the Act to avoid being bullied into making regrettable decisions.

"Farmers across the state need to unite and fight the government on this issue," he said.

PGA spokesman Geoff Gare said it would take a lot of convincing to make farm lobby groups agree to abolishing the veto right.

"I think it is typical of the arrogance of the government that farmers land is worthless and that owners should stand aside when ever they say so," he said.

Mr Bowler, who prepared the report, said it was not his role to protect the farming sector.

"My aim is to remove as many disincentives and hurdles for the mining industry as I can," he said.

"The right of veto on mining can be an obstruction."

Mr Bowler said a code of conduct already existed between miners and farmers in some parts of the state, which might be the solution to the current situation.

The aim was to get the best value from the land, he said.

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