Queensland government sets sights on Cape York

The Cape York Peninsula will be ‘open for business’ in varying degrees under the Queensland government’s latest draft plan.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Jeff Seeney, said the draft Cape York Regional Plan“delivers on the Newman government’s commitment to balance economic development opportunities such as agriculture and mining, with protection of the regions’ significant natural and cultural resources.’’

It proposes three land-use classifications - general use areas, strategic environmental areas and national parks – all of which allow some forms of economic development.

“This draft plan delivers on our vision to provide indigenous communities on Cape York the opportunity to create a sound economic future, while protecting the environment,” Seeney said.

“Labor locked up the Cape with its Wild Rivers Act, but the Newman government is taking a responsible approach to planning that encourages appropriate resources sector growth and co-existence with existing land uses.’’

Seeney said Labor was “good at creating emotively-named Acts that won them green preferences but delivered precious little legal protection from inappropriate development.’’

Under the draft plan 32% of the cape would be preserved in strategic environmental areas, including the Wenlock River and Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve that will be protected from mining – but not business activities “where it can be demonstrated that the development outcome does not present risk of irreversible or widespread impacts to the ecological integrity of the significant biodiversity in these areas. Activities that risk such impacts will not be allowed.’’

Seeney said 53% of the region would be designated General Use Areas available for “responsible economic development assessed under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.’’

Under the plan, general use areas will prioritise economic development activities, including agriculture, tourism and resource activities, “while recognising that site-specific environmental and cultural values remain important considerations in any development/resource proposal.’’

Strategic Environmental Areas are those containing ‘’regionally significant values for biodiversity, water catchments and ecological function – such as the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.’’

National Parks are being recognised for their protection of the region’s natural and cultural resources. “However, these areas are also recognised as not being ‘closed’ to appropriate economic opportunities,’’ the plan says. “Development and activities in national parks may be facilitated where they are ecologically sustainable activities that protect an area’s natural condition and values.’’

Seeney’s draft plan also identifies priority living areas and priority agricultural areas.

“The priority living areas will provide greater certainty for investment and growth in regional towns by setting aside an area in which settlement is the priority land use,” he said.

In riority agricultural areas, the plan says specific land uses will be given priority over any other proposed land use “to ensure this high-value agricultural land use is not threatened by developments, particularly resource projects.”

“As with our other regional plans, we are giving local communities greater control of their own economic future, and councils will be able to determine the appropriateness of any potential resource activity within PLAs,” Seeney said.

The government says the draft plan has been developed in consultation with indigenous groups.  An 80-day consultation period from November 25 to March 25 will allow further community input. 

To view the draft Cape York Regional Plan and to find out how to make a submission, visit www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/cape-york



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