BIOSECURITY Queensland has named a number of suburbs in the Lockyer Valley and Somerset areas as high and low risk as part of recent changes to the Red Imported Fire Ant Restricted Area.
Prior to December 2012, there were no fire ant restricted areas in the Lockyer Valley and Somerset Council areas.
Now Forest Hill, Plainland, Hatton Vale, Laidley North, Laidley, Minden, Marburg and Haigslea are classified as low risk (orange) areas.
In the Lockyer Valley, Summerholm is classified as high risk (red) and borders other red zones in Ipswich West including Tallegalla, Rosewood, Ebenezer and Thagoona.
A Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said the boundary changes, effective from December 17, mean high or low risk restricted areas now align with suburb boundaries instead of streets, a reduction of formal paperwork and the ability to submit and approve Risk Management Plans online.
The spokesperson said the classifications were based on the level of known and at-risk fire ant infestations within the suburb.
"Summerholm and the surrounding suburbs have or will receive remote sensing surveillance in 2012-13 and again in 2013-14," they said.
"Over 10,000 hectares of image capture for remote sensing surveillance has already occurred in the Lockyer Valley, and this imagery is now being processed."
The Biosecurity spokesperson said there were about 3700 active Approved Risk Management Plans in place, with 17 new applications received since the changes came into play on December 17.
"Fourteen of these applications have been approved so far."
Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones said he had concerns about areas being classified as low risk.
"Fire ants are just disastrous, and to say anything is low risk is something we have to be very careful about, because in my opinion the whole thing is a high-risk situation," Cr Jones said.
"As long as the process for approving plans are the same quality I have no problem with submitting them online, but we don't want things to get mundane and for people to sit back and let the system take care of this. I don't think we could say we have spent enough resources on it because it is so important."
Information about the new restricted area, Approved Risk Management Plans and prevention guidelines is available at daff.qld.gov.au/fireants.
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