Cropping land protection announced

YESTERDAY Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones released final maps and announced the Emerald and Springsure region, and much of southern Queensland, will be granted the highest level of protection as Strategic Cropping Land Protection Areas.

As of May 31, 2011, resource development projects that are not well advanced in the approvals process will be subject to the full effect of the legislation to be introduced later this year.

“We are leading the nation in policy that safeguards our best cropping land – other states are now following suit,” Ms Jones said. “Through this policy, we are protecting our important food bowls across the state.”

The Protection Areas defined have been so because they are under intense and imminent development pressure, Ms Jones said.

Outside these Protection Areas - defined as the Strategic Cropping Land Management Area – projects will need to avoid permanently rendering cropping land unusable and mitigate any unavoidable impacts.

Ms Jones said Queensland’s cropping land would be protected more than ever before as a result of yesterday’s policy.

“We reached a significant milestone in April with the release of the proposed criteria to identify strategic cropping land and (yesterday) we put the framework into action,” Ms Jones said.

“The State Government is making its intentions clear – proponents must consider their impacts on strategic cropping land – it should prompt many to redesign their projects so they can co-exist with farming land.”

Ms Jones also released a Regulatory Assessment Statement on the framework for public consultation.

“The Queensland Government recognises there will be cost implications for businesses and government to implement the policy,” she said. “For this reason, we are once again consulting to ensure people have every opportunity to comment on how we are striking the balance between development and protecting the state’s important cropping land.”

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