The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has welcomed two reports highlighting ongoing coexistence challenges for the state’s agriculture and resources sectors, but is still mining for answers to some critical questions.
QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis said the GasFields Commission Queensland’s (GFCQ) Review of Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 Assessment Process Report and the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment’s (OGIA) Consultation Draft of the Underground Water Impact Report 2021 for the Surat Cumulative Management Area provided valuable insights for the agricultural community but left many uncertainties.
“In Queensland, we continue to see the permanent and unsustainable loss of agricultural land to a variety of non-agricultural uses ranging from urban sprawl, manufacturing and industrial uses, utilities, resources and mining,” Dr Davis said.
“We acknowledge GFCQ’s report recommendations and if implemented by the government, will increase the level of protection for agricultural land and improve transparency for farmers encountering coal seam gas (CSG) activities.”
“In fact, QFF has already begun work towards recommendation six, and is currently completing a review of the agricultural land use classifications as they relate to coexistence outcomes.”
“However, QFF preferred that all gas proponents complete the more onerous Regional Interest Development Approval when dealing with agricultural land to adequately assess the extent of an activity’s impact on the area. While the rehabilitation of agricultural land continues to be poorly defined in environmental approvals and must be addressed.”
QFF also commended OGIA for investigating subsidence for the first time, documenting a direct link with CSG activities.
“There appears to be a large gap in the existing regulatory framework for dealing with subsidence and landholders require clarity around who is responsible for the consequences or negative impacts to the financial value of the land.”
“With an increase in resource activity in recent years, and demands on agriculture increasing, agriculture land must be treated as the precious and irreplaceable commodity that it is as major resources projects are considered, approved and developed.”