During recent projects, we have held numerous discussions with the local shires so that community leaders are aware of our plans. We’ve also established a dedicated Mid West website so people can access relevant local information.
To further increase the level of engagement between MEPAU and local residents of the Shire of Irwin, the company sponsors an independently facilitated Community Roundtable.
This group operates independently of MEPAU, although the company does provide information specifically requested by the group and, like a number of other stakeholders, including regulators and subject matter experts, participates in the group by invitation.
MEPAU believes community and stakeholder engagement is part of an ongoing process with the local communities in which it operates. Further engagement is planned as we finalise forward exploration and development plans.
Engaging local landowners and traditional owners
Land which MEPAU proposes to access for exploration and/or development often has the following characteristics:
- Has been both a family home and a farm business for a long time
- Involves landowners and local community who may not be familiar with the resources sector approvals processes, regulations and management practices
- Located where local community perception may be influenced by uncertainty and unpredictability as well as concern with potential impacts of proposed developments
MEPAU is aware of these factors and that understanding each other and communicating effectively is key to successful coexistence.
What happens when drilling occurs on a landowner’s property?
MEPAU is a significant landowner in the Shire of Irwin and is committed to upholding and improving the agricultural productivity of land it owns and also develops.
Where activities are located on land owned by others, MEPAU negotiates voluntary land access agreements with landowners on the relevant property where the drilling is taking place. With most of our drilling locations situated on land previously cleared for agricultural use, we rarely need to clear any native vegetation. Once we are no longer using a site, we rehabilitate the area as agreed with the landowner.
What is the expected process once a voluntary land access agreement has been made?
MEPAU liaises routinely with landowners to help minimise any disruption. Prior to any clearing or site activities, the project specific Environment Plan, which addresses rehabilitation requirements, is reviewed and assessed by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS).
The rehabilitation requirements are based on results of environmental studies undertaken to establish baseline conditions. The land is rehabilitated under regulations established by the DMP and in consultation with the landowner until agreed completion criteria have been achieved.
Traditional Owner engagement
During the project planning phase, traditional owners are routinely consulted about any heritage values in the project area and are then engaged to monitor early ground works and help further ensure conservation of any heritage values.
What is the area of ground disturbance and clearance used to drill a well?
Post-drilling, the area used for a producing well typically reduces to the fenced off wellhead area.
Examples of Coexistence – Exploration and Development
- Exploration and development occurring in the Shire of Irwin since the 1960s gives an ongoing local presence
- Local residents and Shire are generally more familiar with the oil and gas sector, MEPAU and the whole of government regulatory approach than some other neighbouring shires
Stakeholder Engagement we undertake involves:
- Liaising routinely with landowners on whose land we operate
- Promptly responding to one-on-one enquiries or information requests
- Holding independently facilitated Community Roundtable workshops
- Hosting site tours to discuss and see first-hand the management practices used
- Sponsoring and partnering with various organisations including the Mingenew Irwin Group, various sporting clubs and local educational institutions