YP landholders left in limbo for far too long

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Stockjornal  Opinion VIEWPOINT Thursday August 06 2020

Imagine your farm has been in your family for 160 years – cleared, developed, modernised and looked after by generations of your forebears. Imagine having your children show a desire to take on the property and continue that proud family tradition.

Now imagine living under a cloud, knowing the land you love might one day become a place you can’t stand to be’ let alone hand down to your children.

 Imagine having a mining company pushing to develop an open cut mine on your door step, with sections of your land so close they fall in the blast zone.

Imagine being worried you’ll be dragged through the courts one day, because you refuse to grant the company a waiver to access your land.

This is the situation confronting Pine Point farmer Brenton Davey (pictured), whose property is adjacent to Rex Minerals’ proposed Hillside copper-gold mine site, which is back in the news after the company’s Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation was recently approved by the state government.

He is not alone – four other landholders are also facing similar uncertainty.

The PEPR approval has these landholders up in arm, given they say they were told that no such green light could be given without them signing land access agreements with Rex Minerals.

Yet now, the government has revealed that withholding PEPR approval until such agreements had been signed was “legally unenforceable”.

Too often in this process, landholders have felt confident they understand their rights and had a sound grasp on the steps the mining company needed to take, only to be blindsided by government decisions and changing advice.

Too often they are left seeking justification for decisions after they have been announced, rather than being kept in the loop and informed ahead of time.

The process has created years of uncertainty and stress for these five farmers.

How do you work out a succession plan, or decide to invest in on-farm infrastructure or fencing if you don’t know what the future holds?

And even if they did decide to sign a land access agreement, how do you determine compensation for something that’s priceless to a family – their home, their history and their future?

Jacinta Rose