The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has called on the QLD Government’s proposed strategic cropping land legislation to reflect all the available scientific advice.
Responding to the introduction of the legislation, QRC head Michael Roche stated that the inclusion of soil criteria in the Bill, instead of in subsequent regulations, means the focus would move to the Parliament’s Environment, Agriculture Resources and Energy Committee.
"It is a surprise to discover soil criteria laid out as black letter law in the legislation introduced last night, effectively sidelining the Minister’s own committee of four eminent soil scientists appointed to advise on implementation of the legislation," Roche said.
"This legislation needs to be underpinned by the best available science and while the jury is still out on some of the proposed soil criteria used to identify the best cropping land in Queensland, no-one can come away from this process completely satisfied.
"The last thing anyone wants to see is a lawyer’s picnic created around soil criteria open to challenge through the courts."
Roche went on to say that it could bring about the introduction of another exclusion zone for mining operations, which will mean that a number of projects will be blocked.
"However, we do acknowledge that the government has recognised the prior investment of tens of millions of dollars in advanced projects and is also providing avenues for these projects to work within the legislative framework," he added.
Despite the widening of governmental protections and exclusions for mining operations, some QLD towns have chosen to opt out.
The towns of Blackall, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Clermont and Mount Isa have already chosen not to enact the exclusion zones.
Heberton, Gayndah, Mount Morgan, Monto, and Mundubbera are also choosing to follow suit.
Mining minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the towns’ decision to opt out of the exclusion zones were based on what they thought was in the “best interests” of the community.
"It’s all about striking the right balance between the needs of the resources sector, the environment and the people who live and work around mining regions," he said.
Roche added that four per cent of the state will be covered by the proposed strategic cropping land legislation, while the resources sector only physically disturbs .09 per cent of the state’s land.