Nolan stands by special consideration

THE newly appointed Minister for Natural Resources Rachel Nolan has played down farmers’ angst by claiming her transition into Kate Jones’ former portfolio will have little effect on Strategic Cropping Land policy.

Golden Triangle farmers are irate at the government’s decision to grant Bandanna Energy special consideration for its Springsure Creek Coal project despite the land being classified as SCL, but Minister Nolan stuck to her guns and said she would support the government’s decision.

“Whenever a line is drawn in the sand and tough new regulation is introduced, there will always be difficult circumstances which have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis,” Minister Nolan said.

“In the case of Bandanna Energy’s Springsure Creek project, strict transitionary arrangements have been applied.

“It is very important to note that these transitional conditions were granted to the Springsure Creek project only after Bandanna Energy provided a written assurance that the project would not permanently damage Strategic Cropping Land.”

But Member for Gregory Vaughan Johnson shared landholders’ anger and invited the minister to visit the area so she could see the “decision to allow Bandanna to proceed is wrong and must be overturned”.

“This is a last-ditch effort for sanity to prevail. Such is the quality of this land, it wins prizes. It is exactly the type of land that should be protected as part of any food policy,” Mr Johnson said.

He said Kate Jones’ betrayal of landholders had created a volatile situation.

“She gave these farmers repeated assurances of protection. Then just prior to stepping down from her ministry, Ms Jones announced special approval for the Bandanna Energy Coal project on Springsure Creek,” he said. “And then she puts her name to a patronising letter by the treasurer in the farmers’ local paper telling them that the project won’t ruin their farms because it is an underground mine and Bandanna have written her a letter saying they will ‘rehabilitate’ it. The real kicker here is that Kate Jones and Andrew Fraser trust Bandanna’s easy assurances on rehabilitation when Bandanna doesn’t even want to operate or own the mine. It already has all its coal assets on the market.”

Mr Johnson said rehabilitating farms after mining can’t be done and farmers had been tricked into believing they would be protected through a double game involving loopholes in the policy.

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