Farm groups slam govt for failing to protect prime land

The State Government is under fire for failing to protect key areas of agricultural land.
The State Government is under fire for failing to protect key areas of agricultural land.

THE release of a new regional plan for the Darling Downs has been met with hostility from farm groups for failing to protect key areas of agricultural land.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney was spruiking the merits of the Darling Downs Regional Plan in Toowoomba yesterday.

The plan has safeguarded priority agricultural and residential areas across the region from mining developments.

What has been defined as "priority" has fallen well short of the expectations of farm action group AgForce.

"Any resource development seeking to operate in a Priority Agricultural Land will 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," Mr Seeney said.

Toowoomba Regional Council's priority living areas

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps supported the plan.

"The new Regional Plans have a strong focus on resolving land-use conflicts between the agricultural and resource sectors," he said.

"We believe they can co-exist and both can flourish."

Mr Seeney said the plan made provisions for prime agricultural land at Gowrie Junction and Cecil Plains to be safe from mining.

Western Downs Regional Council's priority living areas

"The short story is that agricultural land use will never be displaced by the resource industry," he said.

AgForce general president Ian Burnett came out swinging just hours after the plan's release.

"As AgForce pointed out in our submission to Government, the Regional Plan Priority Agricultural Areas cover less than half of the current cropping area within the Darling Downs and only about 40 per cent of those in central Queensland," he said.

"Furthermore, the plan's priority land uses do not include improved grazing areas, such as dry land cropping or the water infrastructure essential to operating irrigated agriculture.

Southern Downs Regional Council's priority living areas

"Despite AgForce raising these concerns with the Government on multiple occasions they were not rectified in the final plans and this is very disappointing.

"...The protections for our state's irreplaceable soil resources can be altered by the planning Minister and potentially without stakeholder consultation, as we have seen recently with changes to the Sustainable Planning Regulations."

Download the Darling Downs Regional Plan here.

Goondiwindi Regional Council's priority living areas

Topics:  agforce andrew cripps deputy premier jeff seeney

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