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Carving up food lands for coal transport in Central Queensland.

In March 2014, Lock the Gate Alliance released a new report that reveals a Queensland Government proposal to declare a State Development Area (GBSDA) across 2 million hectares in Central Queensland, to facilitate coal rail developments, would lead to major flooding and significant loss of food-producing land.

The declaration of a State Development area will mean that the Queensland Coordinator General can compulsorily acquire any farmers land, against their wishes, across 2 million hectares of land. 

There is no requirement for good faith negotiations in this land acquisition. The weight of uncertainty alone for these landowners within the GBSDA is enough to drive down land prices and chill beneficial agricultural productivity, let alone expansion.  A similar SDA scheme for a coal rail line in the Surat Basin resulted in a reported 30% loss in land values. Download the Executive Summary (1MB) here and the Full Report (5MB) here.

Key Findings

The report finds that flood risks and potential loss of good quality food producing land could be enormous.

It states that: 

  • The GBSDA 'precincts' affect more than 260,000 hectares of agricultural, pastoral or potential cropping/horticultural land.
  • More than 500,000 hectares of the GBSDA regularly experience flooding and there have been 57 tropical cyclones that have passed within 200km of it since 1906. The construction of railway lines across major floodplains will substantially change surface water flows and lead to altered flood patterns.
  • The proposed rail precincts within the GBSDA cut across 1,680 waterways between the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point. None of the rail projects proposed comply with appropriate State Planning Policy for floods, bushfires and landslides, or recent Australian engineering standards.
  • Only 1 in 20- or 1 in 50-year flood events have been planned for, and not the larger floods which pose the greatest risk to landholders and communities.
  • Such negligent cost avoidance puts at risk the communities of the region, its infrastructure and agricultural productivity.


  1. This report has been reviewed by Richard Francis, B.e. (Civil), Grad dip o. R., Consultant - Water Resource Management and Hydrology. Full review available here.
  2. Submissions on the GBSDA closed on the 28th March, you can see Lock the Gate's submission here.
  3. Thanks to Paula Heelan, Erland Howden, Lee Hansen and Tom Jefferson/Greenpeace for use of Central Queensland images and to Olga for creation of the infographics.

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