Land & Water Commissioner

The Land and Water Commissioner provides independent advice to landholders, resource companies, the community and government on mining and coal seam gas (CSG) activities in the state.

The Commissioner listens to community issues, facilitating greater consultation between government, community and industry.

The Commissioner is a key source of information and guidance to assist landholders and communities to better understand the way that mining and gas activities are approved and regulated in NSW, and to give them a say in how things are done.

The Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the finalisation of standardised land access agreements which are being developed in conjunction with key agricultural sector and mineral/petroleum industry representatives.

The Commissioner has access to the resources of all NSW Government agencies, including the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, as well as other relevant bodies to seek advice on matters raised with the Commissioner.

The Commissioner reports directly to the Secretary, NSW Department of Industry.

Jock Laurie was appointed as the NSW Land and Water Commissioner in December 2012. As the Commissioner, he provides advice and facilitates greater consultation between government, community and industry on exploration activities in the state.

Get in touch

If you have any concerns in relation to mining and exploration activities in NSW you can contact the Land and Water Commissioner. See the contact details section.

Providing advice

The Commissioner provides advice on:

  • Exploration activities and  mineral, petroleum and coal seam gas development throughout the state
  • Strategic Regional Land Use Policy
  • Regulatory approval and assessment processes
  • Compliance and enforcement matters
  • Landowner rights, access agreements and compensation
  • Rights and responsibilities of exploration companies

The Commissioner supports Government by:

  • Responding to concerns raised in relation to current / future exploration and development activities across the state
  • Generating independent advice on the impacts of current policy settings


NSW Status Report Project

The status report project is an initiative of the Commissioner in response to community concerns on monitoring and impacts from coal mining and CSG projects. The reports bring together data from government and industry and presents it in a clear and concise format.

The main areas of community concern (dust, noise, blast, water, rehabilitation) have been included. This project uses the same principles as the NSW Groundwater Baseline Project which presented factual data on water rights, licencing and use.

Status reports

The reports re-display publicly available monitoring data as reported on company webpages and government monitoring sites. The aim of the reports are to assist the reader to gain an understanding of the long-term trends. The report combines dust, noise, blast (noise/vibration), water and rehabilitation data from projects. Where an area has multiple projects in close proximity one report has been created to better display cumulative impacts and monitoring. Only data in raw figures reported on company websites has been used in the reports with links for further information on company or NSW Government data are also included within the status reports.

Regional summary

In regions where multiple status reports exist a regional summary of the data has also been created.

Compliance summary

The compliance summary compliments the status reports and provides information to the community on regulatory activities. NSW Government departments carry out regulatory activities to ensure compliance against project and licence conditions. The document combines summarises on inspections and regulatory actions within NSW as reported by the Department of Planning and Environment, Environment Protection Authority and NSW Resources Regulator.

Geological Summary Project

The geological summary project is an initiative by the Commissioner in response to community enquiries about geology.

The summaries include geological data from Government webpages, basic geological considerations, comparisons from different regions and references for further information.

NSW Groundwater Baseline Project

The groundwater baseline project is an initiative of the Commissioner in response to community concerns on water rights, licencing and use. This includes concerns on the impacts from existing and proposed coal mining and CSG projects on water availability and quality.

Department of Industry—Lands & Water undertakes regular monitoring of water sources to assess the impact of agriculture, industry, mining and coal seam gas in NSW. To safeguard the environment and community, there is limited and controlled use of groundwater in NSW under the NSW Water Act 1912 and Water Management Act 2000.

Gunnedah Basin

The Gunnedah Basin in North West NSW has over 1,400 individual government groundwater monitoring bores at over 700 sites that are continually gathering data. Groundwater data from this area dates back to 1903 in the Great Artesian Basin, and the late 1960s for the main alluvial systems. There are a number of existing and potential coal and potential CSG projects located within the Gunnedah Basin.

Irrigation is the predominant purpose for groundwater use in the Gunnedah Basin. Most of the monitoring bores are in the Upper and Lower Namoi and the Lower Gwydir valleys, where high yield, good quality water and the large volume of water rights are allocated across the systems. The NSW Government is installing further groundwater monitoring sites in the sedimentary basin where coal seam gas exploration is underway.

The project explores the geology of the Gunnedah Basin and its groundwater sources to provide context. It examines existing groundwater entitlements and purpose. It shows the groundwater monitoring networks and highlights water level behaviour over time for key groundwater sources.

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