WHAT ARE WE ASKING FOR?

We are asking for genuine, community-driven planning processes that significantly improve on the current regional planning system, including: 

  1. Amendment of the Regional Planning Interests Act (RPIA) to create strict no-go zones for resource activities in key living areas, prime farmland, key cultural areas and priority ecological areas.
  2. Amendment of the Planning Act (PA) to make regional plans mandatory and to require 3-yearly reviews and 5-yearly updates of regional plans.
  3. Public investment in regional diversification taskforces to prioritise meeting targets for growth in agriculture, supporting tourism and pursuing new economic opportunities.
  4. A dedicated regional outreach program to support landholders to take advantage of renewable energy to reduce energy bills and seize opportunities in the carbon market.

We are seeking amendments to the RPIA to review it against the UN framework principles on human rights and the environment, and to improve the mapping and strengthen protections for priority areas, as follows:

  1. Strict no-go zones enacted which preclude resource activities in mapped areas
  2. Remove the power for approvals to be given for activities in these areas
  3. Requirements for all mapping of priority areas to be updated regularly
  4. The introduction of a new category to protect key cultural areas
  5. The removal of broad exemptions that over-ride mapping
  6. Mandatory public notification of any proposals that affect priority areas
  7. Ensure that no other laws over-ride the protections contained in it

We would like to see the following improvements in mapping:

  • Priority Living Areas: must be mapped around all towns state-wide with a minimum 5km buffer, with the option of regional plans providing additional protections.
  • Priority Agricultural Areas – mapping needs to be completed for all regions and should also include mapping of ‘regionally significant water sources’ including town water catchments, important recharge areas and areas of surface and groundwater connectivity[1].
  • Strategic Cropping Areas – mapped areas should be protected and the field verification process should be abolished, except to identify additional areas missed by mapping.
  • Key Cultural Assets – a new category should be introduced to protect sites of significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Key Ecological Areas – a new map should be produced that includes the floodplains and rivers of the Channel Country and the Great Sandy World Heritage proposal, plus other areas identified through the regional plan process[2].

 

[1] The current Act already allows for regionally significant water resources to be included within the PAA category, but there does not seem to have been many such areas included in the mapping.

[2] We note that Traditional Owners in the Channel Country have signed a joint statement calling for protection of the floodplains and rivers in the region.