There’s been plenty of speculation, and the environmental offset letters may have been sent out; but the Southern Downs regional council has said they have a firm stand to protect Prime Agricultural land across the region.
Mayor of the Southern Downs, Peter Blundell says, “to say that we’ve banned coal and coal-seam gas is an exaggeration of what the resolution actually stated.”
“The resolution actually says that we want our priority agricultural areas to be protected and that we also will be proactively lobbying to achieve buffer zones between all of our villages in the Darling Downs regional plan currently.”
He says that this decision does not preclude mining throughout the whole of the Southern Downs but resolves not to issue any approvals or permits for any works on road reserves, easements, reserves or any other land controlled by the Council for the purposes of resource sector development.
This comes in agreement with comments made by local member Lawrence Springborg earlier in the month, in response to claims that open cut coal mines are planned for Warwick and Inglewood.
Mining for Goondiwindi
Closer to home, and Mayor Graeme Scheu says this resolution in the neighbouring council doesn’t affect the prospect of mining in Goondiwindi.
“It doesn’t have any impact on our area here because we’re two different scenarios,” he said.
“Our good farming country has been recognised; all the river and our irrigation area. I think when the state did it; they made sure all the irrigation country was protected.”
While exploration permits are current across much of the near regions; Mayor Blundell says councils must make their own decisions on a case-by-case basis.
“Its up to each individual local government as to how they view that,” he says.
“If I speak to colleagues in Maranoa and Western Downs, while certainly they’ve had to deal with the impacts, there is no doubt that there has been a substantial benefit to the community from those resource activities as well.
“So it is a balancing act, it needs to be recognised as an important part of the economy of this country and this state and it needs to be thoroughly overseen and conducted in the appropriate areas.”
For Southern Downs Greens candidate, Elizabeth Ure, this decision is a huge achievement in what is widely known as the heart land of National and Country Party.
“It’s very symbolic and I think its really showing leadership in the area, and across the rest of Queensland that we can say no,” she says.
“I think we have to stay really strong and say this is what our community wants and we can’t have it on our farms and threatening our waterways.”
Within our own backyard in the Goondiwindi Region, there has always been the prospect of mining, but without the necessary infrastructure, it seems that mining is still far off…at least for the moment.