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In light of the analysis, AgForce Queensland has called for an urgent review of the act, which it says has “done little” to protect the priority areas identified under it.

The mapped land is largely contained in a swathe from the Lockyer Valley and Western Downs region, to the north, beyond Rockhampton.

Mapping analysis showing the areas of overlap between RPI areas and resource sector titles.

Mapping analysis showing the areas of overlap between RPI areas and resource sector titles.

Large areas of strategic environmental land in Channel Country also contained significant resource interest. Of the 6.6 million hectares, 3.4 million were covered by production and exploration titles.

The 2.6 million hectares of priority living land, largely in the state’s south-east corner, was least affected, with only about 257,000 hectares of overlapping interest.

Lock the Gate Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said the act had “undeniably failed” Queenslanders.

“The four regional interest zones under the RPIA cover just 11 per cent of Queensland, yet 37 per cent of that area is covered by exploration licences or developments,” Ms Smith said.

A breakdown of regional planning interest areas and mining and petroleum titles.

A breakdown of regional planning interest areas and mining and petroleum titles.

AgForce Queensland chief executive Michael Guerin said no resource sector applications to operate on the land had been refused, “calling into question” its effectiveness in protecting agricultural interests.

While mining and energy development did offer opportunities for regional communities, it was “vital” governments ensured agricultural land was not taken out of production by “poorly conceived legislation”.

“An urgent review of the RPI Act must be undertaken to ensure agricultural landholders can have a say and permanent impacts are avoided so our best land can continue to produce food and fibre,” he said.

Introduced under the Newman government in 2014, the act was to be a centrepiece of planning and development reform for the state when coupled with “new generation” regional plans.

A department spokesperson said the assessment of any application for resource activity identified any impacts and whether these could be managed with “suitable conditions”. They added that for many, other legislative approvals were also required.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane described the analysis as “flawed and misleading” and said the sector co-existed with many land uses, including agriculture.

Exploration was often carried out over “large areas with little land disturbance” using surveying aircraft, while companies move to production only once this proved a resource was there, Mr Macfarlane said.

Longreach grazier Angus Emmott also called on the government to strengthen the act so the places it was “meant to protect” remained off limits.

“Queensland’s ability to produce food and fibre is facing a death of 1000 cuts. We need strong laws to protect what’s left,” Mr Emmott said.

Matt Dennien is a reporter for the Brisbane Times.

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