16 Jan 2013

Important changes to Queensland's strategic cropping land regime

With the commencement of the Strategic Cropping Land Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2012 (Qld) on 21 December 2012, a number of changes have been made to the strategic cropping land (SCL) regime in Queensland, including:

  • amendments to the SCL trigger maps;
  • a new standard conditions code for resource activities;
  • new application fees and forms.

Amendments to the SCL trigger maps

A new version of the SCL trigger map has been approved by the chief executive, with effect from 21 December 2012.

Version 2 of the trigger map removes a number of areas that were erroneously mapped as potential SCL, including beaches and foreshores, existing major infrastructure such as mine pits, power stations and dams, and areas designated as ‘urban’ in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday Regional Plan and the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan. We understand that no new areas of potential SCL have been added.

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines' online mapping tool now incorporates the new mapping. Digital data of the amended trigger map for use in GIS mapping programs is also publicly available on the Queensland Government Information Service (QGIS) website.

New standard conditions code for resource activities

The standard conditions code for resource activities (Code) simplifies the SCL compliance framework for certain resource activities that have a temporary impact and are considered to pose a relatively low risk to SCL. Proponents who are able to comply with the standard conditions contained in the Code may make an application for a compliance certificate, rather than undergo full assessment under the Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011 (Qld).

The new Code, also effective from 21 December 2012, is divided into three parts:

  • Part 1 applies to resource activities that will have no additional impact on SCL or potential SCL beyond what was previously authorised for the land. This is intended to include the situation where, for example, an application to amend an environmental authority is made for a change to the way in which an activity will be conducted but where the activity, footprint size and impact are not changing.
  • Part 2 covers activities that are considered to have a minimal and temporary impact on SCL or potential SCL. This part mostly relates to surface resource activities that are limited to excavations using hand-held tools and light vehicles and which do not require the construction of formed, gravelled or sealed access tracks.
  • Part 3 covers activities that have a low and temporary impact on SCL or potential SCL and provides for a wider range of activities than those provided for in Part 2. This includes, for example, buried linear infrastructure such as power lines, sample pits and geotechnical pits, stockpiling soil, water monitoring bores, lay down areas, chemical and fuel storage, formed and gravelled access tracks and temporary camps and accommodation.

Financial assurance is only required for Part 3 activities, and must be paid prior to the commencement of the resource activity on SCL or potential SCL. Financial assurance for SCL purposes is separate to financial assurance required for an environmental authority.

New application fees and forms

An application for a compliance certificate will now attract the following fees:

  • if made under Part 1 of the Code—$1,000;
  • if made under Part 2 of the Code—$1,500;
  • if made under Part 3 of the Code—$10,149; and
  • if for the reissue of a compliance certificate under any part of the Code—$500.

The application fees for validation, protection and exceptional circumstances decisions remain unchanged.

Further, new environmental authority application forms containing trigger questions for SCL are now available on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website.

UPDATE

The Strategic Cropping Land Act has been repealed.  Strategic cropping areas are now regulated under the Regional Planning Interests Act.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.