A good idea would be to map all the most important environment areas and top cropping soils essential for food security and give them priority when new industrial developments, including coal seam gas (CSG) and mines, are proposed. ‘Well, that is what the Regional Planning Interests Act (RPI) was designed to manage’, Chairman of Property Rights Australia (PRA) Jim Willmott said.
There is nothing good to be found in discussion papers released by the Palaszczuk/now Miles ALP Queensland government that will hollow out RPI Priority Agricultural Areas protection to be worthless. Agriculture is of no significance to this government and coal seam gas pays the bills. Barefaced, this government seeks to sideline the increasing problem of CSG activity caused subsidence on the Darling Downs, some of the best cropping soils in Queensland, by specifically removing it from protection under the RPI.
Coexistence has been a buzzword long used by government to facilitate the CSG industry in all circumstances, leaving landowners to adapt as best as they can. These poorly written, detail deprived discussion papers takes coexistence to new level of Orwellian oversight. It is suggested that the Gasfield Commission is to be renamed the Coexistence Queensland and take on some sort of education role regarding the interaction of landowners to renewable wind and solar developments.
There are worrying signs the government is seeking to shift landowners subject to renewable developments to similar arrangements as to the loss of property rights under CSG projects.
‘There is inadequate detail in the discussion papers to properly assess the changes to what the government now calls the Coexistence Institutions. These include The Office of Groundwater Impacts and the Land Access Ombudsman’ said Mr Willmott.
The overall view of Property Rights Australia is, if implemented, the discussion paper proposals will further strip landowner rights and any meaningful protections offered to good quality agricultural land.
‘PRA calls on the government to discard the discussion papers and retain planning policy that benefits all sectors and provide real protections to the best agricultural land’, said Mr Willmott.
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Subsidence image: EOS Data Analytics Blog, Making Gas Mining Safer For Agriculture In Australia, image Zena Ronnfeldt.
CSG Plant image: CSIRO CSG article, 27 April 2023 News Release.