Legal development

Proposed amendments to the Regional Planning Interests Act 

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    Key insights

    • The Queensland Government have released proposed amendments to the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (Qld) that aim to better manage coexistence between resource activities and agricultural interests.
    • In particular, it proposes to replace parts of the current section 22 exemption with a compliance assessment process against prescribed "eligibility criteria", require notification on a public register of the use of the exemption and introduce new landowner consultations obligations.

    Review of the Regional Planning Interests Act

    The Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning has released its Discussion Paper Proposed amendments to the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014. The proposed amendments are in response to some of the recommendations made by the GasFields Commission Queensland in its 2021 Review of Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 Assessment Process Report. The review was undertaken in response to stakeholder concerns about the effectiveness of the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (Qld).

    We wrote about the Commission's recommendations in our Queensland Land Access and Resource Approvals Year in Review 2022 article "Queensland Government backs Regional Planning Interests Act reform".

    What amendments have been proposed?

    The proposed amendments seek to replace the "agreement with landowner" exemption that applies to resource activities in a priority agricultural area (PAA) or a strategic cropping area (SCA) and promote the consistent and transparent utilisation of exemptions.

    Currently, section 22 of the Act makes a resource activity in a PAA or SCA exempt from the need to hold or act under a Regional Interests Development Approval, where there is voluntary landholder agreement and the activity is not likely to have significant impact on a PAA, SCA or land owned by another person. Stakeholders identified the exemption in its current form makes it impossible to ascertain the extent of activities being undertaken in areas of regional interest, and whether the exemption requirements had been met.

    The proposed changes will require resource authority holders to compliance-assess their proposed activity against new statutory eligibility criteria. This replaces the "significant impact" part of the section 22 exemption. The changes would also require a holder to register the use of an exemption on a public register.

    Further, authority holders will be required to consult landholders and adjoining landholders prior to carrying out activities under an exemption, as well as provide a declaration to the State that appropriate consultation has occurred.

    These proposed reforms will be accompanied by compliance and enforcement provisions. Under the proposed amendments, notification requirements of applications would be expanded to include adjoining land owners.

    The Department has actioned other Commission recommendations through reviewing regional plans with a view to developing guidance material for stakeholders. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has commenced a review of agricultural land use classifications.

    What's next?

    Consultation on the proposed amendments closed on 8 December 2023. The proposed reform is part of the broader joint consultation process with the Department of Resources on coexistence related initiatives. This is discussed in greater detail in our Queensland Land Access and Resource Approvals Year in Review 2023 article, "Review of coexistence institutions and other proposed land access reform".

    Author: Mark Cowan, Senior Associate and Lydia O'Neill, Paralegal. 

    The information provided is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to.
    Readers should take legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.


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