The Queensland Government says new laws identifying key farming areas will help resolve conflicts with the mining industry.
The Regional Planning Interests Act sets out a new process for approving mining and gas developments.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says it empowers farmers by preventing mining companies from taking some access disputes directly to the Land Court.
“There has been a very dire need for some sort of a planning process to not ban the industry but to control the industry,” he said.
Mr Seeney says it will lead to better relationships between farmers and miners.
“This is the sort of planning process that should have been in place before the resources industry expanded to the extent that it did,” he said.
Queensland Resources Council spokesman Michael Roche says it was rare for a dispute to go to court and in practice the impact of the new laws will be small.
“But it will provide even more encouragement for resource companies to reach that agreement with landowners,” he said.
Mr Roche says while it is not intended to slow the process, there may be some early “wrinkles”.
“The people administering the Act will be learning as they go, just as landholders and resource companies will be learning,” he said.
‘Won’t solve every issue’
Farm lobby group AgForce says while priority agriculture areas have been identified, all of the state’s cropping and grazing areas should have been included in the process.
AgForce spokesman Dale Miller says the group will watch closely to see if the new regime delivers on its promise of equity.
“It won’t solve every issue,” he said.
“There are steps by which landowners can have their grievances heard if they don’t believe that the process has been effective.
“We’ll certainly be monitoring the progress on this framework and working with the State Government to make sure that it is actually effective in providing landholders with a more equitable say, as well as protecting those high value agricultural areas.”
Mr Miller says there are large areas of agricultural land that have been left out of the new process and the Government could have gone further.
“We’ve maintained all along that an effective coexistence is really about having a relationship where both parties have a more equal say in terms of what’s being proposed and can reach agreement on the way an activity is structured and undertaken,” he said.
“We’d like to see that more equal say extended to all the cropping areas as well as grazing areas within the state as well because we just see that as an equitable outcome.”