LNP to ban coal, CSG mining in Scenic Rim

Jessica Marszalek and Evan Schwarten

November 2, 2011 – 3:44PM


Coal and coal seam gas (CSG) miners may be banned from southeast Queensland’s Scenic Rim district under a Liberal National Party (LNP) government.

LNP leader Campbell Newman on Wednesday announced the land-use plan for the area southwest of Brisbane would be revised to say exactly which industrial activities will and won’t be allowed in certain places.

“Coal seam gas and coal mining is likely to be inappropriate, ruled out, across this area,” Mr Newman told reporters at a Beaudesert farm.

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Agriculture and tourism were more appropriate industries for the area, although mining activities like quarrying would be allowed, Mr Newman said.

He said 80 per cent of the Scenic Rim council area was subject to exploration permits, which was of concern to the community.

Mr Newman conceded nothing could be done about those permits, but he said no major projects had been approved.

“We’re warning the industry that if we’re the government it will be very difficult to get any sort of approval here,” Mr Newman said.

“(It would be) almost impossible, not wanting to pre-empt the process, to actually get those projects into production.

“We think that they should be spending their money elsewhere.”

He said there were already vast areas of Queensland where coal and CSG could be searched and mined for.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate in the Scenic Rim area,” he said.

Mr Newman said the announcement was not a ploy to garner support in the seat of Beaudesert, held by Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) state leader Aidan McLindon.

The new party, led by federal MP Bob Katter, wants a moratorium on CSG.

At the weekend KAP poached Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth from the LNP. Mr Knuth had been unhappy with his former party’s CSG stance.

Premier Anna Bligh said Mr Newman’s announcement was a knee-jerk reaction.

“It is Campbell Newman’s desperation about the Bob Katter party and the threat that it poses to the LNP that is now driving his mining policy,” Ms Bligh told reporters in Cairns.

“I think we’re seeing from the LNP today an element of desperation.

“I don’t think you make mining policy on the basis of one electorate.

“You do it for the whole of Queensland, you do it carefully, you do it in a planned way.”

Mr Newman said the LNP’s CSG policy was far more concrete than KAP’s, as a moratorium would provide only a temporary halt to the industry and not a long-term plan.

He said the Labor government’s strategic cropping land plan, which proposes to protect the state’s best farming land, was a “political sham” that gave no real certainty to landholders who wanted protection from mining.

Lobby group Lock the Gate has urged the LNP to make a policy with clear criteria for good farmland that would apply across the state.

Spokesman Drew Hutton said the party needed to broaden the government’s criteria for protection, which sees only about one per cent of land conserved from mining, and leaves out crucial growing areas like Felton and Kingaroy.

“The LNP has to stop picking off geographical areas where they want to win seats and start putting down policies that encapsulate clear, principled positions,” Mr Hutton told AAP.

Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic spokesman Innes Larkin said the community group needed to see the LNP guidelines before it could be confident the region had won a respite from CSG.

“We are happy that this seems to protect our region, but do not like the playing off of one area against the other,” he said.

“We would like to have strict criteria for the giving of mining exploration licences that are based on scientific research, not just because a community is actively campaigning against it.”

© 2011 AAP


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