Cropping land plan fails to impress CSG opponents

A PLAN the Queensland Government claims will protect priority agricultural land from "incompatible resource activities" has been criticised by the Lock the Gate Alliance as pandering to mining interests.

The Government today released a review of the Strategic Cropping Land Act, saying the regional plans it contains will identify and map priority agricultural areas (PAA) that will be protected.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said any resource development seeking to operate in a PAA would need to meet co-existence criteria, which will ensure no material loss of land, no threat to continued agricultural use and no material impact on irrigation aquifers or overland flow

But Lock the Gate Alliance national campaigner Phil Laid said the Government proposed repealing the legislation less than two years after it comes into force.

"This move comes off the back of new rules to speed up coal exploration and lock in regional plans that include no provision for protection of vital water resources from coal and gas mining," he said.

"In just one week, the Government has sped up the release of new coal exploration areas, signed an MOU to speed up project approvals and proposed to tear up the Strategic Cropping Land Act: it's an assault on the countryside that has ignored the input of rural people."

He said 960 submissions were received about the Strategic Cropping Land review, and 96% of these submissions came from its network and called for Strategic Cropping Land protections to be strengthened.

"The Government is under pressure from the resources industry to allow mining everywhere, they're ignoring their constituents in the bush who just want some peace of mind. There won't be any peace until there is proper protection for agricultural land, bushland and precious groundwater from coal and gas mining."

Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said new legislation would be needed to implement the regional plans and the government would introduce a Regional Planning and Development Act into Parliament later this year.

He said the Review of the Strategic Cropping Land (SCL) Framework would become one of the regional planning interests under the new Act and the outcomes of the SCL review would be incorporated into the new Act's regulations and codes.

"The new regional plans have a strong focus on resolving land-use conflicts between the agricultural and resource sectors. We believe they can co-exist and both can flourish," he said.

"Importantly these reforms will not reduce the current level of protection for Strategic Cropping Land."

Topics:  coal seam gas csg environment jeff seeney lock the gate

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