Law Reform · Nature & the Reef

Queensland Government moves to revoke Wild Rivers Areas in Cape York

13 January, 2014

The Queensland Government has moved to revoke wild river declarations in the Lockhart, Archer, Stewart and Wenlock basins on Cape York.

EDO Qld and EDO NQ have opposed the revocations arguing that the Stewart Basin, which contains five ‘high preservation areas’ will now technically be open to mining, extractive resources and many other forms of high impact development.

Read our submission here.

The other three basins – Lockhart, Archer and Wenlock are destined to become new ‘Strategic Environment Areas’ (SEAs) under the new draft Cape York Regional Plan.

According to the Regional Land Use Guide in that draft plan, a wide variety of development is allowed to take place in SEAs provided they don’t have a ‘widespread or irreversible impact’ on the values of the SEA and meet the criteria under other laws.

With such ambiguous and loose wording used by the Draft Plan, development in these pristine areas could theoretically include:

  • Forestry
  • Extractive resources and mining (except open cut/strip mining)
  • Grazing
  • Animal husbandry (poultry farms, feedlots, piggeries)
  • Aquaculture
  • Ecotourism facilities
  • Residential, commercial and industrial infrastructure
  • Weirs or residential dams
  • Agricultural water storage facilities
  • Transport, power and communications infrastructure

Concerned? ...What can you do?

You can have your say on the future of the Cape on the draft plan which is currently open for comment until 25 March 2014. See here for more.