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LRMA News 18 December 2014
Posted by on Apr 19, 2015, 13:11

Proceedings to determine Access Management Plans for the properties ‘Allawah’, ‘Sorrento’ and ‘Muttabun’ commenced in the Land & Environment Court, Lightning Ridge last Tuesday 16 December 2014. The Land & Environment Court (the only LEC court sitting in NSW this week due to the tragedy in Martin Place, Sydney) was presided over by Commissioner Susan Dixon.

The first day was taken up with a view of some access tracks in contention on the three properties on a very hot and windy day and the entering into evidence of various documents by the landholders. We also worked out with the landholders which access tracks were agreed to and which remained in contention and these maps were submitted to the Commissioner.

The second day Maxine O’Brien was in the witness box for a couple of hours answering questions on the LRMA’s preferred Access Management Plan and what we objected to in the landholders preferred Plans. It was a bit nerve wracking but the President and Directors present said I represented the miners very well so fingers crossed for an outcome that will make it easier for miners to access their titles whilst avoiding interference with land management practices. Mr Slack-Smith then represented the landholders for a short time in the witness box.

We did not cover every detail of the various preferred Access Management Plans in Court as Commissioner Dixon advised she would take written submissions. The landholder’s barrister received leave from Commissioner Dixon to submit a revised Access Management Plan on behalf of the landholders that would take into account some issues they were no longer pressing.

The Commissioner advised the following timetable. The landholders are to file their new Access Management Plan by 19 January 2015. The LRMA are to file their written submission by 9 February 2015 and the landholders are to file their response by 23 February 2015.

Commissioner Dixon would then hand down her decision. Hopefully we will have a determined Access Management Plan by the end of March 2015 but the timing will be up to the discretion of the Commissioner.

Following for your interest is a copy of a NSW Farmers article in The Land that appeared on-line today.

Merry Xmas.

Farmers face opal miners in court
18 Dec, 2014 12:40 PM

It could set a precedent for the development of access management plans in the area

A number of Lightning Ridge farmers are defending a matter in the Land and Environment Court this week.
A CASE now before the Land and Environment Court could have serious ramifications for future land access management, says NSW Farmers.
The organisation has expressed its support for a number of farmers who are parties in Land and Environment Court proceedings this week in Lightning Ridge.
The landholders are NSW Farmers’ members and are appearing as defendants in a matter brought by the Lightning Ridge Miners Association, which is seeking a determination on opal mining access rules across a number of properties in the Lightning Ridge area.
NSW Farmers chief executive officer Matt Brand said he hoped the action would lead to greater clarity around the development of land access rules in the area.
“This is an important case for farmers in NSW because it could set a precedent for the development of access management plans in the area,” Mr Brand said.
“What concerns us is our landholders and the Lightning Ridge Miners Association are in court because of the failure of the NSW Department of Resources and Energy to determine the rules of access under the Act which by law it is able to do."
Mr Brand said the government has shifted the cost burden of administration of justice onto farmers who are “already doing it very tough due to ongoing drought conditions”.
“This is a totally unacceptable situation and the government needs to take corrective action to ensure this situation does not arise again,” he said.
“The government also needs to take more seriously the significant deficiencies in the way the opal industry is regulated in NSW.
“NSW Farmers will continue to advocate for the protection of landholders’ interests in Lightning Ridge, particularly in relation to compliance, enforcement, compensation and public liability issues.”
The proceedings are being supported by the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund.

Maxine O'Brien
Lightning Ridge Miners' Association Ltd
PO Box 177, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Ph: 02 6829 0427, Fax: 02 6829 0830
Mob: 0427 920 474

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