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Sep 17, 2011

Protecting cropping land from mining, and farmers.

Cartoon: By Leahy.

The Bligh government has responded to concerns of farmers about the intrusion of mining into prime agricultural land. They have just released a Draft State Planning Policy for Strategic Cropping Land, which is open for consultation. Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham has warned the community to take a good hard look at it.

In the fine print it becomes clear that miners are not the only industry being kept under tight control there. It limits what farmers themselves can do on their own property:

“We applaud the intent of this new policy to protect our best agricultural land from heavy industry like mining,” Cr Bellingham said. “However, when you look at the fine print, it has major implications for what producers themselves can do with their land and for Council’s planning schemes.” “It effectively removes local decision making for anything other than basic farming activities.”

“It effectively removes local decision making for anything other than basic farming activities.” The proposed policy applies to farming land only, not towns and urban areas, and restricts new buildings and developments, except in exempt categories. …

For example, you could build a winery, which is exempt, but if you wanted to have a restaurant or craft outlet associated with that winery it would not be allowed. You also can’t add a few cabins to an existing farm to supplement income, for instance. While animal keeping is allowed, this essentially only applies where no new buildings need to be built. So feedlots and free range pig or chook farms would be OK; poultry sheds and piggeries would not.

The policy could also have major impacts in the Granite Belt, with new sheds associated with a rural industry allowed, but only if they are less than 750m2 in floor space, the Mayor said. “That’s a very small shed in the orchard or horticulture industry,” Cr Bellingham said. “A number of producers have packing sheds over 4,000 square meters in size. ...
The Greens have ‘allied’ themselves with farmers in relation to this matter, so there are few prizes for guessing that they have had some input into this draught. The government has done the usual thing, in presenting a ‘solution’ to the concerns of the rural community while indulging in a power grab.

In the process they are ingratiating themselves to their Green allies in imposing the rather dour outlook of Bob Brown onto the future of farming in the area.


  1. Beware of the Govt offering gifts (solutions) especially in the case of the Bligh Labor Govt in regards to coal seam gas. This SCL legislation is not even a claytons solution its a Trojan horse to also include other agendas.
    Time & time again this Govt's solutions to CSG problems have achieved nothing accept for more green tape for resource companies & very little improvements for landowners.

  2. Nice to see you over here.

    It has always been the same Dale. Around 40 years ago the local dairy farmers enlisted the help of the union movement to try to get a fair go on supply of market milk.

    They got a couple of leftist boilerplate speeches and little else. In this day and age they would have also had to fend off another group seeking to inflict their own agenda.

  3. Both QFF & Viv Forbes have found holes in the SCL proposed legislation according to this article from the Central telegraph.

  4. Thats a shocker Dale. In the original article it was clear that open cut mining was merely an excuse for a much larger agenda to control farming activities themselves.

    David Leyonhjelm has mentioned that one of the problems with the whole issue is that farmers have little personal control over their own properties, nothing to gain, and much to lose in both mining, and CSG. The situation would be very different were farmers to have some ownership rights over the deposits themselves.

    It is no accident that the US has half of all the world’s oil wells, and that its coal seam gas industry is considerably more advanced than ours. A key difference is that landowners have skin in the game – ownership of mineral rights is a primary motivator for exploration and extraction.

    For governments, the solution is to create an environment in which a market based approach can emerge. It was government actions preventing such an approach that created the current problem. More government tweaking will not help.

    Essentially the heart of the problem here is that 'public interest' is allowed to take precedence over private property rights.

  5. There are a few times that the public interest has to take precedence over property rights. But a fundamental rule must always be applied, if a right is taken then the landowner/ miner / business must be more than fully compensated; unlike what occurred under vegetation management. This SCL could be even worse than vegetation management in one aspect; the landowner will have to pay fees to maintain a right that they have always held.