Beetaloo Station owners lose Supreme Court appeal for fracking compensation

Owners of Beetaloo Station, a cattle station in the Northern Territory of Australia, have recently lost an appeal in the Supreme Court regarding compensation for potential damages from gas exploration in the Beetaloo Basin. The station owners argued that they should be compensated by Tamboran Resources’ subsidiary, Sweetpea Petroleum, for the proposed clearing of land on their property for seismic testing. However, Justice Peter Barr upheld a previous decision by the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) that stated compensation could only be considered after exploration activity had occurred.

Beetaloo Station, spanning over 1.05 million hectares and located approximately 750 kilometres southeast of Darwin, is owned by billionaire Brett Blundy and the Armstrong family. It is currently up for sale, with an expected price tag of over $300 million. During the court proceedings, the station’s lawyer claimed that monitoring the clearing for weeds would increase management costs for the property.

The court also considered the impact of seismic testing on the market value of the property. Beetaloo Station’s expert witness stated that clearing the seismic lines would lead to a decrease in the property’s market value by $624,000. However, Sweetpea’s expert witness, property valuer Frank Peacocke, disagreed and argued that the exploration activity would not affect the property’s value. According to Peacocke, potential buyers would not expect a discounted price due to the previously impacted activity areas.

The Pepper Inquiry, which investigated fracking in the Northern Territory, recommended that pastoralists receive compensation for each well drilled on their property. In a separate ruling by the NTCAT, the owners of Tanumbirini Station, a neighboring property, were awarded a minimum compensation of $15,000 per gas well drilled.

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