Within the next two months, changes to Queensland’s Strategic Cropping Land (SCL) laws will remove the opportunity to confirm land as non-SCL based on a cropping history assessment. Assessments undertaken using the cropping history test could allow significant savings in field surveys costs and mitigation costs for mining and gas companies up to amounts of $20 000 per hectare. The Queensland Government is reviewing strategic cropping land laws in order to balance competing interests in the agriculture, mining and urban development sectors.
A key change recommended in this review is to repeal the Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011, and integrate its objectives into the Regional Planning Interests Bill (RPIB).
As part of this integration, the cropping history test provisions for land within the Strategic Cropping Land Management Area will be removed.
The cropping history test provides an opportunity to confirm land as non SCL based on its historic land use. When this provision is removed any assessment to declassify SCL will require a field assessment of land and soil conditions against the SCL zonal criteria.
Carrying out works on lands identified as strategic cropping land may result in mitigation costs to proponents of mining or gas projects between $4750 to $20 000/hectare.
By undertaking a cropping history assessment prior to the SCL Act being repealed, significant savings could be made by avoiding field assessments otherwise required under the RPIB and potential mitigation costs, which may be in the range of $4750 to $20 000 per hectare.
An assessment of the applicability of the cropping test is readily available utilising historical satellite imagery to which O2 has access.
The links below provide more information for miners on what the changes will mean for them.
*Jon Walton is a senior soil scientist at O2 Environment + Engineering.