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Locals at odds with government over changes to mining acts

The Queensland Government has tightened up the criteria to object to mining projects.
The Queensland Government has tightened up the criteria to object to mining projects. Contributed

THE QUEENSLAND Government may be aiming their controversial new mining legislation at stopping Lock the Gate but the Brisbane and Lockyer Valleys will suffer, say some locals.

Earlier this week, the government used its huge majority in parliament to push through the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014.

Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said the bill included amendments to the notification and objection process for mining lease applications and environmental authorities.

"Landholders whose properties share a boundary with a site directly affected by a proposed resource project will have the same notification and objection rights as those who own or lease the site of the proposal," Mr Cripps.

"We have amended the Bill to ensure adjoining landholders are notified of an application for a mining lease and will continue to have a right to object to that application."

However the bill removes the rights of neighbouring landholders to object to "low level" mining developments which Toogoolawah resident and former National Party MP Beryce Nelson says is a basic denial of natural justice.

 "There is no plan to exclude the water catchment area from mining even though the Brisbane Valley is geologically unstable, a flood plain and is a rift valley with 11 fault lines three of which cross the Wivenhoe Dam," Ms Nelson said.

Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones has also expressed concerns about the impact to "Australia's Salad Bowl" after a Lock the Gate representative had earlier told Council this area was subject to several mining applications.

"I'm extremely concerned - we grow 90% of the vegetables for eastern Australia," Mayor Jones told a council meeting on Wednesday.

"I'm not against mining or CSG but it shouldn't happen in this Valley."

Minister Cripps said food production would be protected by the Regional Planning Interests Act introduced in 2013.

"{This} protect primes agricultural land and resolve land use conflicts where they occur," he said.

"The assessment process established by the Act restores the balance of power between rural producers and resource companies when new mining or gas developments are proposed, giving both parties the certainty they need to plan for the future."

Mr Cripps said local MPs and Mayors had been consulted about the bill passed this week.

"The Department of Natural Resources and Mines undertook a thorough consultation process with local councils and members of parliament," Mr Cripps said.

 "Committee hearings across the state also gave local communities to opportunity to have their say on the legislation.

"We have listened to the genuine concerns of landholders and local communities, but we've also heard groups deliberately distort and misrepresent the facts in an attempt to shut down the resources sector and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports."

Ms Nelson said the Minister's statement showed the real purpose of the bill was to silence groups like Lock the Gate which were holding mining companies and governments to account for bad practices.

"None of the people in the Mt Beppo Action Group want to shut down the industry," she said.

"They - like everyone else - just want to see it managed properly and balanced against the importance of other key growth sectors like tourism and agriculture."

Topics:  andrew cripps, brisbane valley, coal exploration, lock the gate alliance, lockyer valley, queensland government


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