Legal development

Queensland land access and resource approvals year in review 2023

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    Welcome to the 2023 Queensland land access and resource approvals year in review

    In this publication, we highlight the key legislative, policy and judicial developments relating to land access and resource approvals in Queensland.

    This year the Government has conducted a number of reviews and released a raft of discussion papers relating to potential legislative reform, arising largely from the Government's promises in the Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan. It has now been almost a decade since the last round of significant legislative reforms in the land access space contained in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (Qld). Since then, although we have seen a maturing of the industry and approach to land access negotiations generally, the rapid growth in renewable energy projects has led to further co-existence pressures. It appears as though 2024 will mark the next phase in land access reform in Queensland.

    This year also saw the appointment of President Kingham of the Land Court as Chair of the Queensland Law Reform Commission on a full-time basis from 1 April 2023. The Commission is undertaking a review of the legislative process to decide contested applications for mining leases in Queensland under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld). This significant review is expected to conclude in mid-2025 when a final report will be issued to the Attorney-General.

    We have also seen the increasing prominence of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) in resource authority approval processes, following the Land Court's landmark decision in Waratah Coal Pty Ltd v Youth Verdict Ltd & Ors (No 6) [2022] QLC 21.

    We expect to also see a significant shake up in the next 12 months to the scope and functions of the key land access institutions including the GasFields Commission Queensland, the Department of Resources, the Land Access Ombudsman and the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment. We have for many years described the regulation of the land access space as "crowded", and the Government has now indicated that these institutional arrangements are likely to be the subject of reform.

    The articles in this publication are current as at 1 December 2023.

    We encourage you to reach out to us if you would like to discuss any aspect of this publication.

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