Councils demand greater role in mine approvals

Queensland gasfield commissioner John Cotter has called on the government to give councils a greater role in mining project approvals.

According to Cotter councils should have a greater say in the approval of projects as it has such a huge impact on their community and region, NineMSN reports.

He stated that councils needed to be viewed as an equal partner in the process.

"I think it would be a very short way down the track before we make a recommendation that legislation be changed to make local governments equal partners too," he said.

"I don't care what the reaction is. I will make the hard decisions on this that give the most benefit to the largest amount of stakeholders. I'm not trying to get re-elected."

It comes ahead of the government's 'horror' budget which will have a major affect on the mining industry through the increase of royalty rates, and the proportion of these rates that will be handed to mining regions.

 Last week QLD mining minister Andrew Cripps avoided questions over involving councils in the approvals process, instead pointing to new online services that will provide greater information regarding mining activities in their regions.

Cotter slammed the move, stating that "[councils] need to be a part of the process, not find out after it's been approved".

Local Government Association of Queensland president Paul Bell agreed, saying that no attention is being paid to the effects of mining on local governments.

What we're saying is let local government in early, let them talk about the frustrations that communities feel about being consulted,"Bell told AAP.

"It's almost a weekly event now.

"Mining companies are asking local government questions, but only responding to the criteria put together by George Street and not by communities."

Cripps dismissed these requests, stating that "it is the state that owns underground resources. Therefore it is the state's role to grant permits, authorities and leases over those resources."

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