The Lock the Gate Alliance has accused Premier Campbell Newman of betraying a promise to protect cropping land from coal and gas mining and fatally undermining Queensland’s agricultural future with a new Bill that will repeal the Strategic Cropping Land Act and allow mining companies access to the best farmlands in the State.
Prior to the State Election in 2012, Premier Newman wrote to Lock the Gate promising that he would “ensure there will be no open cut mining on strategic cropping land; and won’t allow underground mining, coal seam gas activity or other development on strategic cropping land if it is likely to have a significant, adverse impact on the productive capacity of that land to produce food and fibre in the future.”
The Regional Planning Interests Bill 2013, being considered at the moment by the parliamentary State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee betrays this promise, according to Lock the Gate President Drew Hutton.
Mr Hutton said, “This Bill does nothing but create a new piece of paper needed by a mining company before going ahead with their plans, and removes the only legislative protection currently afforded to important cropping land in Queensland.
“Already, mining companies can mine virtually anywhere, including Nature Refuges, mapped Strategic Cropping Land, Great Artesian Basin recharge areas, within regional aquifers that feed towns and agricultural districts. What little protection the Strategic Cropping Land Act provided would be swept away by this Bill, which is riddled with loopholes, and is not worth the paper its written on.
“The time has come for the Premier to fulfil his promises to put limits on the mining industry. Farmers and communities need the certainty of no-go areas. Without unequivocal statutory protection, we know what will be the result: more loss of agricultural lands, environmentally sensitive areas and critical water resources to mining activities.
Note: Submissions on the Regional Planning Interests Bill 2013 close on Friday the 17th January.