The NSW Government will appoint a new Land and Water Commissioner, end the royalty holiday for coal seam gas producers, and encourage producers to contribute funds to local projects under a new community benefits initiative.


Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader Andrew Stoner said the new Land and Water Commissioner will oversee the regulation of invasive exploration activity on Strategic Regional Land.


Standardised land access agreements for coal seam gas exploration on private land will be introduced to deliver greater consistency and fairness for landholders.


“A standardised agreement will be developed by a working group made up of NSW Farmers, irrigators, cotton growers, and the coal seam gas industry, and the application of these agreements will be overseen by the new Land and Water Commissioner.”


The Land and Water Commissioner will report to the Director General of the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services. The role will complement the Federal Government’s newly established interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee.


“The NSW Government will establish new Regional Community Funds, which will see local communities receive a share of their region’s assets,” Mr Stoner said.


“Given the resource is owned by the public, it’s important that local communities and the people of NSW benefit from the production of coal seam gas through royalties and investment in communities in which the industry operates.


“It is imperative that coal seam gas producers invest in the communities in which they operate.


“Under the proposed framework, coal seam gas producers may elect to contribute funding into a Regional Community Fund. The NSW Government will refund $1 for every $2 committed by industry, up to 10 per cent of the royalty take.


“Regional Community Funds will provide much-needed funding for projects such as critical infrastructure or human services, with funding to be determined according to community needs in consultation with the industry and the community.


“This is an initiative that seeks to directly benefit communities in resource areas in recognition of the financial benefits that must be shared between the coal seam gas industry and the community.


Mr Stoner said the NSW Government contribution will be funded by ending the royalty holiday for Coal Seam Gas producers.


He said the NSW Government will seek industry and community feedback within 21 days regarding the establishment of the Regional Community Funds.


“The NSW Government is seeking enhanced industry co-operation to ensure resource communities adequately share.


“We acknowledge the many responses to the draft Strategic Regional Land Use policy and will continue to refine the policy over the next few months to ensure NSW has the strongest regulation of mining and gas extraction in Australia, if not the world."