New legislation to strengthen rights for cotton growers

COTTON Australia claims new government legislation which came into effect this week had strengthened the rights for growers across the state.

The key aspect of the Regional Planning Interest Act is to identify and protect prime agricultural land across the state.

There are four key elements under the legislation which will be used to determine whether areas across the state can be classified as of regional interest.

They include priority agricultural area, priority living area, strategic cropping area or a strategic environmental area.

The legislation also seeks to better manage the impact and support coexistence of resource activities and other regulated activities in areas deemed to be of regional interest.

Cotton Australia's Queensland policy manager Michael Murray said the changes were significant for growers.

He said farmers had a far greater say as to what resource activity can or cannot occur on their land under the new legislation.

"It recognises agriculture as a priority activity where it occurs on some of the state's best land," he said.

"On that land resource activity must work around agriculture, rather than agriculture working around the resource industry."

Mr Murray said the government had encouraged resource companies and landholders to reach voluntary agreements, but the new legislation gave greater powers to landholders.

"In effect, on land covered by the regulations, if a resource company cannot get the voluntary agreement of the landholder then it will have to apply for approval," he said.

"It will have to meet some very significant conditions.

"Then at best receive approval to have an impact on the landholder's land of no greater than two percent."

Mr Murray said it was now up to Cotton Australia to educate growers and landholders of their new rights and responsibility.

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