Peter Free's sunflower and sorghum farm in Felton will now be protected under the new State Government strategic land cropping act.
Peter Free's sunflower and sorghum farm in Felton will now be protected under the new State Government strategic land cropping act. Nev Madsen

Region's best crops protected

THE Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley's best agricultural land is officially protected from today with the State Government's strategic cropping land legislation coming into effect.

Natural Resources Minister Rachel Nolan said the Bligh Government had developed comprehensive legislation to scientifically identify the state's best quality agricultural land, protecting it from mining and other activities that would permanently alienate it.

"Coming into force today, this legislation means that our best land, notably but not only, on the Darling Downs, in the Lockyer Valley and in Central Queensland's golden triangle, will now be protected for agriculture forever," she said.

She said the legislation had been the subject of detailed consultation with local governments, agricultural groups and miners and that its commencement today was a very significant event.

"The challenge for Queensland is to ensure economic growth and development across all industries, and this includes ensuring that the agriculture sector maintains its most precious and scarce resource-its strategic cropping land," she said.

"This framework strikes a balance between agriculture, mining and urban development to help maintain the long-term viability of our food and fibre industries, and supports economic growth for regional communities."

Ms Nolan said the Queensland Government had undertaken extensive consultation with key stakeholders throughout the development of the strategic cropping land framework.

"The Strategic Cropping Land Advisory Committee, which includes key resources, agricultural and urban development groups, will advise on implementation issues and contribute to the two-year review of the legislation," she said.

"I will also work closely with the newly formed Science and Technical Implementation Committee to ensure that the soil science, integral to the legislation, is implemented to achieve the aim of the policy."

Today also marked the beginning of the Strategic Cropping Land Regulation 2011, which supports the Act, and the initiative's State Planning Policy which is designed to ensure local government planning and development assessments are considered under the Act.

The Act, Regulation and State Planning Policy form a legislative and planning framework to protect strategic cropping land from resource and urban developments that lead to permanent impacts or diminished productivity.

Strategic cropping land applications can now be officially submitted to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

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