Unfair Compensation for CopperString Land Resumptions
The CopperString Project is a proposal by CopperString Pty Ltd to construct a high voltage alternating current electricity transmission line from Woodstock to Cloncurry.
The proposal will provide energy users in North West Queensland access to the National Electricity Market. On 18 August 2011 the Governor in Council approved the CopperString facility as an infrastructure facility of significance (IFS).
CopperString are compelling private landowners to surrender vast tracts of land through the North West heart of Queensland for easement purposes.
Some of this land has been held by grazing and pastoralist families for generations. Under the approval for the IFS, CopperString are required to enter into voluntary agreements based on commercial negotiations with landowners for compensation for the land taken.
Many landowners have been offered compensation which falls far below their rightful entitlements.
Additionally, landowners have been requested to enter into complex option and easement agreements, drafted by CopperString, which effectively wipes away all rights against CopperString.
Should the Landowner not agree to these terms, CopperString will call on the government to compulsorily resume the land requiring the Landowner to fight for claims in Court.
Evan Sarinas of Sarinas Legal is representing some of the Landowners affected by these resumptions. Evan Sarinas says:
“The Agreements have been drafted with very little attention of the affectation issues facing Graziers and Landowners in the conduct of their business and use of the land.”
“Many will have to significantly modify their land management practices in order to accommodate a 120 m wide transmission line easement ripping through the guts of important grazing property.”
“Dam and paddock relocation, heli-mustering, weed management, loss of scenic amenity, and dust issues are just some of the many deleterious impacts the transmission lines will have.”
“The compensation offered for these vast tract resumptions is nowhere near what a court might award if the issues were ever litigated. The insult is exemplified by the token amount offered to Graziers for payment of legal costs to assess and investigate these complex claims.”
“The concerns graziers have about electromagnetic field radiation (EFR) on production and cattle behaviour is understandable. CopperString’s response to these serious concerns is dismissive. Unfortunately there is not enough agitation of the scientific evidence in Australia, however there are some United States studies and court cases which have emerged that clearly show declining dairy production and health issues associated with stray voltage.”
“It will be interesting to see how the negotiations pan out over the next few months, however it is clear that unless CopperString are prepared to pay rightful compensation and costs, the issues will need to be litigated putting the Grazier in the unfortunate position of having to deal with a disturbance created by the needs of others.”
Landowners should not sign any Agreement or accept any offer of compensation until they have sought proper legal and expert advice.