Land Use Planning and Protections of Agricultural Land

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Land Use Planning and Protections of Agricultural Land

Issue:
Broadacre agriculture faces significant competition for land from alternative industries, including from the resource sector, emerging solar energy generation and for environmental conservation. Productive agricultural land is an irreplaceable asset for current and future generations and must be effectively identified, managed and preserved through land use planning frameworks.

Queensland has only 4% of Australia's prime agricultural land. As industry and policymakers strive to increase sustainable production and exports, the preferred solution to land use conflicts is for areas of irreplaceable, high-quality agricultural land to be identified and completely protected from any activity that might risk its ongoing capacity to produce food and fibre for the generations of Queenslanders to come.

A more consistent system to characterise this land is also needed as multiple definitions currently exist within planning frameworks, e.g.:

  • Priority Agricultural Areas (PAA) and Priority Agricultural Land Uses,
  • Strategic Cropping Areas (SCA),
  • Strategic Cropping Land,
  • Important Agricultural Areas and
  • Agricultural Land Class A & B agricultural land.

This reduces transparency and the capacity to effectively manage this vital resource.

AgForce is fully supportive of the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar, providing these developments (which can cover thousands of hectares) do not unavoidably impinge upon or reduce the prime agricultural land available to Queensland agriculture. Many local governments lack the resources to assess impacts and ensure compliance with imposed conditions and it is preferable that they be managed more consistently across the state.

Solutions that we advocate:

  • Areas of irreplaceable, high-quality agricultural land are identified and fully protected from any activity risking its ongoing capacity to produce food and fibre
  • Develop a state planning code for impact assessment of large-scale solar photovoltaic facilities to avoid direct siting on high-quality agricultural land and to also manage any indirect impacts on it
  • Expand the coverage of the PAA and SCA frameworks across the state as currently PAA covers just 40% of the total current cropping area in Central Queensland and 47% in the Darling Downs and only a quarter of the state is under SCA and it should be extended to include areas with irrigated cropping potential, such as the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments.

 

Land Use Planning and Protections of Agricultural Land

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