Queensland is rich in agricultural, mineral and gas resources. At times, this creates coexistence challenges for the agriculture and resource sectors to manage. To assist with this ongoing relationship, the Queensland Government is creating a Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan (QRIDP), which aims to set out a long-term vision to ensure the future of the state’s resources industry, and identify the immediate actions needed to achieve it.
In Queensland, we continue to lose some of the best farmland in the state to a variety of non-agricultural uses ranging from urban sprawl, manufacturing and industrial uses, utilities, and mining. And many landholders are rightly concerned the current land-use planning framework for resource activities fails to provide the level of certainty and strength of protection that is needed to ensure remaining areas of good quality agricultural land are protected from inappropriate development. To continue providing food and nutrient security, we must also look towards the future and preserve the nation’s limited prime agricultural land.
The Queensland Farmers’ Federation is ensuring farmers’ views are heard throughout the QRIDP process and is serious about developing an approach to better protect Queensland’s prime agricultural land. This includes rationalising the various land classifications so that there is a single land categorisation that applies consistently to any assessment process for the protection of prime agricultural land. A requirement for notice of entry, compensation and conduct agreements for new and emerging industries, and a Regional Interest Development Approval in more situations including some preliminary activities. A review of the efficacy of the current adaptive management approach to ground water impacts is also needed. Additionally, an examination of a possible model of landholder mining royalty payments is timely, further landholder support via the Land Access Ombudsman must be provided and tighter regulations for small miners are well overdue.
With so many existing issues, such as the Fox Mine Fox Resources Ltd and their Mineral Development Licence in Bundaberg and directional drilling on the Darling Downs, we must also shift our focus to future trends and demands. Vigilance is needed to ensure agricultural land is treated as the precious and irreplaceable commodity that it is as major resources projects are explored, approved and developed.