The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has raised serious concerns about the Queensland Government’s commitment to adequately protecting the state’s limited prime agricultural land following the recent release of the North Queensland Regional Plan.
The Plan fails to correctly classify both current and potential agricultural land for protection. Instead the Plan classifies only a limited area of currently used agricultural land as Priority Agriculture Area (PAA) for protection while omitting areas of high-quality Class A and Class B land with potential for agricultural development, seemingly at odds with the intent of the Plan to promote economic development.
QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis said while the intended outcome to achieve a consistent planning outcome was supported, the use of PAA to define an arbitrary subset of Class A and B land created a significant gap in the protection of agricultural land.
“It is inappropriate and misleading to use the PAA designation as the basis for protecting agricultural land from both resource and other inappropriate development in the Plan, leaving potential agricultural land vulnerable and reliant on local planning schemes for protection,” Dr Davis said.
“This will only cause further fragmentation and confuse the statewide approach to the protection of agricultural land under the State Planning Policy, further emphasising the need for reform in this area.”
“Queensland’s overly-complicated planning framework for agriculture must be a priority for the Agricultural Ministerial Advisory Council. However, until an acceptable resolution of the various classifications of agricultural land is achieved and incorporated in the relevant policies, legislation and regulations, regional plans must include separate approaches to the protection of agricultural land from both resource development and urban development.”
“With only three per cent of the state classified as prime agricultural land, QFF will continue to strongly advocate for adequate protections as the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan process gets underway.”