New vegetation management bill makes land clearing easier
ENVIRONMENTAL groups have condemned the proposed changes to clearing laws but farmers say it frees them from red tape.
WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman called it the largest environmental rollback in Australian history.
"We're calling on the Newman Government to honour its promise to maintain protection of Queensland's forests," Mr O'Gorman said. "By putting this destructive proposal on the table Minister Cripps is about to break a key election promise made by the Premier."
Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps quickly struck back at what he saw was "alarmist rhetoric" from "extreme green groups".
"We are cutting red tape to ensure farmers can go about their daily business without being treated like criminals," Mr Cripps said.
Agforce vegetation spokesperson Grant Maudsley did not believe the "propaganda" from the greens and supported the changes.
"It's more about commonsense," Mr Maudsley said. "The minister has never said anything about broad scale tree clearing…"
However the Wilderness Society Queensland campaign manager Dr Tim Seelig was worried the bill left 700,000ha of native regrowth vegetation vulnerable because the term "sustainable land use" was not properly defined.
"I am sure most landholders are responsible and that farmers get if they destroy all the vegetation, they will end up with degraded land and poor water quality in rivers," Dr Seelig said.
"But if people wish to or have motive to they are going to be able to clear a lot more than they used to. The data speaks for itself as to the rate of land clearing occurring before and after the introduction of legislation."