The NT is made up of three dominant types of land tenure, excluding Commonwealth lease – Aboriginal freehold land, pastoral land and freehold titled land.
The Aboriginal estate is about 50 percent of the Territory’s land mass while the pastoral estate makes up 49 per cent or 700,000 square kilometre. Freehold land accounts for around 1 per cent of the NT’s land. Gaining access to the various land tenures can be complex and time consuming.
At present, the Northern Territory Government, on the back of a scientific inquiry into onshore gas, is finalising land access regulations to improve the balance of power between landholders and gas companies specifically.
Under the incoming regulations, there will be a requirement for land access agreements to be in place before any type of activity associated with exploration or production. As part of that land access agreement, there will be a minimum of 24 standards that must be met, including relating to compensation.
The major benefit of the regulations will be to provide certainty and protection to landholders who are part of the NT’s $1.2 billion cattle industry. When those regulations are put in place they will be the strongest in the country.