Setting up HIR projects on pastoral lease lands
The registration of carbon projects is the responsibility of the Australian Government. The Clean Energy Regulator is the body responsible for accelerating carbon abatement for Australia through the administration of the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). There are four steps to participate in the ERF, including:
- Step 1 – Apply
- Step 2 – Contracts and auctions
- Step 3 – Reporting and auditing
- Step 4 – Delivery and payment
An interactive questionnaire provides an overview of what is required for a project to be eligible to register.
Careful due diligence is required to ensure the project is suitable to the business and is eligible.
Eligible Interest Holders
Any person or organisation listed on the land title as having an interest in the land is an eligible interest holder (EIH). This includes financial institutions that hold a mortgage over the land, and holders of easements, reserves or sub-leases, and certain Native Title holders (see below). Given a pastoral lease is located on Crown land, the State also needs to give its EIH consent.
The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage assesses applications for the State's EIH consent on behalf of the Minister for Lands.
All relevant parties to the HIR carbon project (i.e. pastoral lessee and/or project proponent and/or carbon service provider) must sign a Deed of Agreement with the State which covers indemnities and various undertakings. If the project proponent is not the pastoral lessee, evidence of the legal right to undertake the project is required.
When assessing a project that has applied for State EIH, a number of certain criteria need to be met:
- The HIR project’s nominated permanence period must be 25 years.
- The project needs to be on an existing pastoral lease with a remaining term long enough to cover all project obligations. This includes the 25 year carbon permanence period, which commences after the first Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) are issued by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).
- The project's HIR activities must be consistent with the definition of "pastoral purposes" as defined in the Land Administration Act 1997.
- The project must only use eligible activities under the HIR methodology.
- Where project areas are located within a determined native title claim for which there is one or more Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBCs), each RNTBC is an eligible interest holder.
- Project proponents must demonstrate that they have either gained, or at least commenced the process of gaining, eligible interest holder consent from any relevant RNTBCs.
- Evidence of either the receipt of RNTBC eligible interest holder consent, or the commencement of the process to gain eligible interest holder consent, must be provided to the State.
Project area exclusions
- A project's carbon estimation areas may not be placed over other granted interests. These include, but are not limited to, dedicated roads, easements or reserves, national parks, nature reserves and State forests.
- Granted mining leases and associated general purpose leases and miscellaneous licences, and petroleum production licence areas >1 block must be formally excluded from project areas unless the mining lease owner agrees the activities can take place on the lease/licence area. The State requires evidence of any such agreement prior to its consent being given.
- Pending mining leases and associated general purpose leases and miscellaneous licences must be formally excluded from project areas included in the pilot project unless the mining lease owner agrees that carbon farming activities can take place on the lease/licence area (State will require evidence of any such agreement).
- State Agreement Act areas must be formally excluded from project areas.
- Carbon estimation areas may not be placed over areas of land which have a Notice of Intention to Take (NOITT) over them.
Land use map
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has created a detailed interactive map showing the intersections between pastoral leases, HIR projects, mining activities, conservation parks, local government areas and other land uses. Data is drawn from a variety of sources and updated as the originating database changes. This can give a preliminary overview of land uses, however, should not be relied on solely to determine project exclusions.