High impact earthworks that damage wetlands will require development approval in a Bligh Government move to further protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
On 2 May 2010 Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones released a Temporary State Planning Policy effective immediately, which makes proposed earthworks activities in Reef catchment wetlands assessable under planning and development laws.
Affected activities include draining, filling, levelling and the construction of channels and diversion banks in the wetlands from Bundaberg to the Wet Tropics.
Ms Jones said much of the wetlands area was already protected through national park or conservation park declarations but 46 per cent of the area was freehold.
She said the Temporary State Planning Policy: Protecting Wetlands of High Ecological Significance in Great Barrier Reef Catchments would be out for public feedback until 30 June, 2010.
This issue has not been part of the Reef Protection Package negotiation with industry and it has not been mentioned. In 2009 ACFA was informed that DERM was looking at further regulating wetlands. ACFA immediately raised the matter with DERM and requested that we be included in any policy discussion with stakeholders. To date ACFA has not been contacted. ACFA is very concerned over the lack of engagement and will be following this closely.