QGC moves to strip away farmers’ strategic cropping land status

Landholder advocate group Basin Sustainability Alliance is alarmed to hear that landowners in the Wandoan region, who thought their properties were protected as “Strategic Cropping Land”, have been served with notices from coal seam gas (CSG) company QGC proposing to strip them of their strategic cropping land status.

BSA Chairman David Hamilton said this was yet another blow to people who are already at their ‘wit’s end’ dealing with coal seam gas companies.

“The timing of this whole matter highlights again the way resource companies are behaving in an underhanded manner,” he said.

Landholders, who wish to prove their properties should remain on the “Trigger Map for Strategic Cropping Land in Queensland” have just 21 days to provide evidence of their land characteristics.

“This means the farmers will need to be engaging experts in soil characteristics and agronomy. Given that the application by QGC covers over 125,000 hectares of land, it will be incredibly challenging for all the landholders to be accessing experts to cover such vast landholdings in such a short timeframe.”

The old SCL legislation was repealed on 13th June as part of the introduction of the new Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (RPI Act). QGC had its applications in prior to this date, so the landholders are now having to make application based on the past legislation.

“The first anyone knew about it was when a very non-descript public notice appeared in the Chinchilla News on 31 July. After this landholders started receiving individual letters. Submissions have to be in by 22 August.”

Mr Hamilton said BSA committee members had spoken to landholders who have expressed their disappointment and disillusionment with Government and the industry.

“Many landholders feel this has been done deliberately to ensure that resource projects are not under higher environmental scrutiny that is required under the new RPI Act.

“Mostly they are shocked by the limited time they have to prepare a submission to protect their land, their lifestyle and their business.”