More than 80 farms in the Queensland Central Highlands may still be threatened by coal mining, despite being declared part of a “protected area” of agricultural land earlier this week.
The Queensland government is refusing to comment on whether two coal mines located in the middle of protected area would be subject to legislation brought in later in the year, the Rockhampton Bulletin reports.
Earlier in the week Queensland Minister for Environment Kate Jones announced the strategic cropping land (SCL) policy transitional.
Under the regulations, a proposed mine in the protected area that does not already have its final “terms of reference” (ToR) for its environmental impact statement (EIS) approved, will need to address the policy.
However, the two Bandanna Energy projects in the region are currently a mid-point of the process and could potentially go ahead.
The projects could together produce up to 530 megatonnes of coal.
According to the Bulletin, the final decision would affect not just the exploration, but more than 80 farmers in the region in the area known as the “Golden Triangle” between Springsure, Rolleston and Emerald.
The battle between mining and farming in the region has been ongoing, with more than 80 food producers campaigning for over a year to have their land recognised as the best agricultural land in the state.
The region was identified as part of the “central protection area”, which along with a “southern protection area” on the Darling Downs, represents 1.84 million hectares of the best food-growing land in the State.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche told The Bulletin: “There are many projects with tens of millions of dollars already invested that have not been recognised.”
A government spokesman said even if the projects were given the go-ahead, Bandanna Energy would have to mitigate any impacts on SCL.