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Cotton Australia welcomes final IPART report
17
Dec '15
Cotton Australia, the apex representative body for Australia's cotton growing industry, has welcomed the recommendations made by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) regarding compensation for landholders.

As part of its NSW Gas Plan, the NSW Government had asked IPART for recommendations on compensation benchmarking.

“Understandably, many cotton growers remain deeply concerned about coal seam gas development in the state, and in particular the potential impacts on land and water resources, despite the efforts of IPART's reports to bolster compensation regimes for landholders, ” Cotton Australia General Manager, Michael Murray said in a press release.

IPART's draft report, issued in September, was welcomed by Cotton Australia on behalf of growers because it recognised that a one-size-fits-all approach would not work for compensation payments.

“IPART's draft report proposed a bespoke model that allows landholders to estimate compensation benchmarks using information specific to their circumstances,” Murray said.

“We welcomed the proposal in the draft report that gas companies should fund benefit payments to landholders, which recognised the impost on agricultural operations from coal seam gas operations.”

“IPART's final report recommends gas companies be allowed to make in-kind and agreed contributions to growers. While upgrades to roads and fences might benefit growers, these would be in addition to compensation payments and rebates of costs incurred through the negotiation process. We urge growers to seek professional advice when negotiating these benefits and land access agreements.”

Murray said IPART's final report is a step forward, but there is much work to be done in order to ensure growers receive fair compensation for time spent during negotiations, and incurred costs.

“IPART's final report supports caps on costs associated with landholders seeking professional and legal advice incurred during the negotiation process. These caps are to be determined by the NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, and we will be following up to ensure growers have a voice in determining the extent of the caps.”

“Furthermore, IPART has recommended further support measures - including legislative provisions - to ensure landholder compensation equals that available to growers in other states. We are looking for support from the NSW Government in introducing such legislation into NSW Parliament.” (SH)

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