.Stronger State planning needed to protect renewables and agricultural land
9 February 2017
Comment by EDO Qld Solicitor Revel Pointon
EDO Qld supports the need for the Queensland Government to take a strong, strategic approach to planning for the growth of our renewable energy sector, and to protect our vulnerable ecological areas and prime agricultural land.
Currently the Queensland Government is seeking comment on the State Planning Policy, State Development Assessment Provisions and the new draft Planning Regulation. These documents set out what the Queensland Government considers to be the most important matters in Queensland which require protection by the State Government in planning decision making. Submissions are due Friday 10 February 2017.
EDO Qld are disappointed to see that the current versions of these draft instruments out for comment do not provide sufficient protections for the renewable energy sector to develop smoothly and in a way that is compatible with other planning demands on our State.
A requirement to identify and protect renewable energy projects should be provided, so that prime sites for renewables that do not affect prime agricultural land nor our vulnerable environmental matters are protected from incompatible development.
The State Planning Policy currently requires strong planning and protections for ‘key resource areas’ which include coal and petroleum and gas resources, along with other extractive resources. Why aren’t similarly strong planning requirements and protections being afforded to our expanding, clean, renewable energy industry?
The assessment of renewable energy projects still lies with local governments, whereas our Planning Regulation could make the State government responsible for assessment of these projects to ensure proper assessment against other matters of State significance, such as environmental and agricultural matters and coherent planning across the State.
With the support of the funding received from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding and the Queensland Government’s renewable energy target, the large-scale renewable energy sector is likely to grow quickly in Queensland in the coming years.
We need strong planning laws which reflect the importance of the renewable energy industry to meeting our climate change commitments and transitioning our state to clean energy that is better for our air, water and health.
We encourage all Queenslanders to get their submissions in by Friday to ensure that the matters they think should be given the strongest and most coherent protection across Queensland are reflected in State planning policy and law.