Farmers wants fraccing veto

Farmers are campaigning for new laws and legal powers to stop fraccing on agricultural land.

Lobby group WAFarmers said yesterday that farmers wanted the power to veto the use of the controversial gas exploration technique.

The emerging industry is scouting out prime farm land in the Mid West and Wheatbelt and farmers are concerned about groundwater supplies and property rights.

The latest warnings about the threat to the farming came as the WA Nationals backed away from their financial support of fraccing and the Conservation Council of WA blasted Premier Colin Barnett for not addressing the issue.

WAFarmers president Dale Park said farmers needed legislation to protect their land and businesses against unwanted drilling, mining and industrial development.

"WAFarmers is seeking legislative amendments which deliver the power of veto to at least the State's Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act, Petroleum Pipelines Act and Mining Act," Mr Park said.

"This legislative change will prevent farmers being adversely affected by drilling activities as it has been our experience these could have been avoided if proper consultation and access negotiations had taken place from the outset."

Mr Park said there was "a real and immediate" need for greater protection of farm land and an agricultural impact assessment.

"Much like exists for environmental impact assessment, WAFarmers is seeking support for the development of a legislated agricultural impact assessment to review the economic, environmental and social considerations of change of land use applications in rurally zoned areas," Mr Park said.

The Nationals have committed millions of dollars through their flagship Royalties for Regions program to foster exploration for unconventional gas but appeared to soften their position this week given the grassroots revolt from farmers.

Shane Love, the Nationals candidate for Moore, said fraccing should only be allowed if communities accepted it. "There needs to be a better way to allow the industry and agriculture to co-exist," Mr Love said.

His comments were backed by Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, who said Mr Love's position was "sensible".

CCWA director Piers Verstegen said it was disappointing the Liberal Party agricultural policy, released by Mr Barnett this week, had ignored the threat to farming.

The West Australian

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