Industry now has the opportunity to let government know
what it thinks about Queensland's strategic cropping land laws.
The government's review of the laws is a welcome move,
particularly if the outcome is lower time and cost impacts on
Queensland's strategic cropping land laws (SCL Laws) are a
key consideration for many companies proposing to develop a
resources project in Queensland.
The SCL Laws were introduced in January 2012 as the
government's response to balancing resource development with
the need to protect cropping land.
Projects which involve open cut mining, coal seam gas operations
and long-wall or underground mining proposed on strategic cropping
land (SCL) are assessable under the legislation.
Since their inception, the SCL Laws have been criticised for
being developed too quickly and with insufficient public
Resources companies now have the opportunity to respond to the
Queensland Government's discussion paper which seeks feedback
and suggestions in relation to the SCL Laws. The time and cost
impacts of dealing with the SCL framework are significant for
resources companies. Resources companies have experienced project
delays due to the time taken to obtain a protection decision or an
SCL compliance certificate. Concerns have also been raised in
relation to the administrative burden associated with SCL
assessments triggered by minor amendments to environmental
According to the Queensland Resources Council in a submission to
the Productivity Commission's inquiry into mineral and resource
exploration, "many explorers have opted to quarantine any area
of strategic cropping land from their tenure, rather than bear the
expense and uncertainty of this Act".
The Queensland Government has made some changes to the SCL
framework as part of its commitment to reducing unnecessary
From September 2012, only resource activities proposed to be
conducted directly on SCL or potential SCL require assessment
(whereas prior to September 2012 SCL assessment was required where
the area of a resource authority contained any SCL or potential
The Queensland Government has also simplified the SCL Standard
Conditions Code with respect to resource activities that have a
temporary impact on SCL and pose a low risk to SCL.
Some of the issues raised for consideration in the Queensland
Government's SCL discussion paper include:
time delays associated with a validation assessment;
the lack of clarity and certainty in relation to the current
definitions of temporary and permanent impacts on SCL, for example
whether underground mining constitutes a temporary or permanent
impact on SCL; and
the prescriptive nature of the SCL Standard Conditions
Responses to the discussion paper are due on 9 September
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