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New mapping reveals QLD’s best farmland and environmental regions offered no protection from coal and gas

Lock the Gate Alliance has released startling mapping showing the extent to which Queensland’s most precious farmland and environmental areas are under threat due to coal and gas mining.

The mapping, created based on publicly available Queensland Government resources, shows that 37 per cent of the highest quality farmland and most important ecological areas are covered by coal or gas mining projects and exploration permits.

That translates to 7.7 million hectares of the best farmland and significant environmental areas being covered by mining and gas titles.

Breaking the mapping down further reveals:

  • Of the roughly 10 million hectares of mapped Strategic Cropping Areas, 2.3 million is covered by mining titles and 2.6 million by petroleum titles
  • Of the 4.3 million hectares of Priority Agricultural Areas, approx 1 million is covered by mining titles and 705,000 by petroleum titles.

When the Regional Planning Interests Act (RPIA)  was introduced in 2014, the Newman Government said it would ‘address the power imbalance between farmers and resources proponents’ and prioritise ‘agricultural activity on what is a finite and critical resource for Queensland’.

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said the new mapping showed the RPIA had not achieved what was originally intended.

“The Regional Planning Interests Act has undeniably failed Queenslanders,” she said.

“Even though only 11% of Queensland is identified by the government as the highest priority farmland and ecological areas, this new mapping shows an astonishing 37% of those areas are covered by coal or gas mining and exploration permits.

“The Palaszczuk Government must remedy this situation. The RPIA must be fixed so it does what it was originally intended to do - protect the best and most precious land in Queensland from extractive industries, including ensuring fracking cannot occur in Channel Country rivers and floodplains.

“We want changes to regional planning laws to make sure communities have a stronger role in helping our regions be the best they can be.

“We want laws that protect our best agricultural land, communities, and ecological and cultural assets.”

Longreach grazier, Angus Emmott said, “This mapping shows Queenslanders, particularly rural Queenslanders, are having their most precious land sold out from under them to mining and gas companies.

“We call on the Palaszczuk Government to strengthen the RPI Act so the special places it is meant to protect are off limits to resource companies.

“Queensland’s ability to produce food and fibre is facing a death of 1000 cuts. We need strong laws to protect what’s left.”

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