The Queensland Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe yesterday announced plans to protect the State’s food growing land from mining development.
In a statement, the Minister described plans for a discussion paper that would set out a long-term planning framework to conserve and manage key food producing land.
The paper invites comments from interested parties to help develop the framework further.
“The proposed new framework will provide increased clarity for agricultural, mining and urban sectors regarding the government’s expectations for strategic cropping land,” the Minister said.
“This will reduce uncertainty for investors and support sustainable industry growth.”
According to Hinchcliffe, the framework is designed to ensure that any developments that “permanently alienate the land,” will not occur unless they are in the public interest.
“If a development cannot pass this public-interest test, it will not be approved and the proponents will have to investigate alternative locations,” he said.
“Alternately, mining development proponents will need to demonstrate that they can comply with the policy by fully restoring the land back to its previous crop production capacity.”
The Minister for Mines and Energy Stephen Robertson said it was important mining and agriculture were able to co-exist.
“The resources sector generates significant economic benefits in rural and regional Queensland,” he said.
“We must have policy and planning tools in place that manage potential land use conflict and provide mutually beneficial outcomes to both sectors.”
“An important part of the proposal includes examining opportunities to change the resources legislative framework, particularly the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 1994.
“Any changes would allow the consideration of strategic cropping land in the tenure assessment and grant process.”
The Minister for Primary Industries Tim Mulherin hoped the proposal would identify land areas with suitable soil, climate and water characteristics for crop growth.
According to the Minisiter, most of Queensland’s agricultural land is suitable only for grazing as a result of poor soils and climatic conditions.
“Only 3.8 million hectares, or 2.2% of the state, is currently used for growing crops for domestic consumption and export,” he said.