Land map defines areas protected from mining
TOOWOOMBA and Darling Downs residents will be able to see what land will be protected from mining after the State Government released its land use map yesterday for the resource-rich region.
Prime agricultural regions to the west of the city including Felton and Millmerran have been protected under the plan.
The Lockyer Valley, widely regarded as Australia's food bowl, was also protected.
The draft Darling Downs Regional Plan is an initial blueprint for what land will be protected for agriculture as well as land ear-marked for future infrastructure and community expansion.
However, resource companies will still have a chance to explore land dubbed "priority agricultural areas".
The draft plan shows where there is priority agricultural area there is stricter criteria for mining companies to meet than in the rest of the region.
The criteria includes no material loss of land, no threat to continued agricultural land use and no material impact on overland flow and aquifers.
Member for Toowoomba South and Minister for Agriculture John McVeigh said the region's towns and most important agricultural land would be protected under the plan while ensuring the co-existence of the industry with resource development.
"Agriculture and resources are two of the Newman Government's four economic pillars and the Darling Downs is rich in both of these," Mr McVeigh said.
"The draft plan safeguards the Toowoomba district's most productive agricultural assets through mapped priority agricultural areas, while ensuring the state can benefit from the abundance of coal, natural gas and other resource deposits.''
The draft Darling Downs Regional Plan will also include buffers protecting towns from mining.
But councils can decide to expand or minimise the buffers in their town plans, moves which would be subject to State Government approval.
Deputy Premier and State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jeff Seeney said the draft plan sought to address conflicts between agriculture and mining.
"It protects the region's priority agricultural land uses by defining the key criteria that will need to be met in order for agriculture and resources development to successfully co-exist within mapped priority agricultural areas," he said.
The public consultation period will end on Friday, September 20.