Changes threaten to erode appeal of parks: NPAQ boss

A FURORE is brewing after the head of Queensland's top national parks group said he was "deadset against" changes to legislation that would open the reserves for development.

National Parks Association Queensland boss Paul Donatiu said the changes threatened to erode the appeal of the parks.

Changes to the Nature Conservation Act by National Parks Minister Steve Dickson are scheduled for Parliamentary debate next week.

If passed, these would encourage eco-tourism projects to be built within the confines of national parks for the first time.

The projects would operate on a 30-year lease approved by the State.

Queensland is rich in iconic national parks, including those in Noosa, the Whitsundays, Daintree, Fraser Island and Eungella in Central Queensland.

Traditionally, eco-resorts are built on the national park's outskirts so they were easily accessible without the project affecting the protected area.

Only a select few have gained permission to be excepted from current regulations.

The laws would also cut red tape so infrastructure - including coal seam gas pipelines and telephone lines - could have an easier application process if it was to cross park boundaries.

Acting Minister for National Parks Tracy Davis said any development would still have to meet strict environmental guidelines by both state and federal governments.

Ms Davis said the environmentally-protected regions were "locked up" by the former Labour Government in an attempt to secure support from the Greens.

"It is worth noting the eco-tourism industry is worth many hundreds of millions of dollars, which because of unnecessary regulations, Queensland is simply missing out on."

Mr Donatiu said changes could damage the reputation of national parks in Australia to the point it would turn people away.

"It's a contradiction of what national parks are about in the first place."

Mr Donatiu also raised concerns about the government making it easier to approve pipelines through forestry areas or national parks.

The size of the easements needed for a pipeline meant it was "effectively clearing the landscape".

The NPAQ has existed for more than 80 years, lobbying to protect and increase national park areas.

The amendments are scheduled to be debated in Queensland Parliament this week but may be postponed until Minister Dickson returns from leave.

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