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Protection of towns a good start

The Premier’s announcement today that urban areas above a population of 1000 residents will be protected from coal and gas exploration leases is a good first step towards protecting Queensland communities from the health and environmental threats posed by these rampant industries, Queensland Greens state spokesperson, Libby Connors, said today.

‘This is a tribute to effective lobbying and protesting by community groups across the Eastern Darling Downs such as the Lock the Gate Alliance and the Toowoomba Coal Mine Action Group.

‘The Queensland Greens have also been pressing for protection of rural communities and a brake on these industries for some time.

‘It should lead to the immediate protection of important Darling Downs centres such as Oakey, Pittsworth, Warwick, Gowrie Junction and Kingsthorpe.

‘It will be a big relief to residents in these areas who have been living with the stress of an uncertain future for months now.

‘Sadly it comes too late for the town of Acland which would not have fitted the criteria anyway and offers no protection to other rural townships such as Wandoan which do not reach the threshold.

‘Nor does it help the Tara blockies who live outside the two kilometre buffer zone and do not constitute an urban centre.’

The Queensland Greens spokesperson said it is a sign of how unbalanced the management of these sectors has been, that they now have to be grateful that large townships are protected.

‘For the Premier to put the state’s economic future back on an even keel and a fairer playing field for the agricultural sector, we need to see much further protection.

‘The Greens policy is committed to protection of our magnificent groundwater resource, the Great Artesian basin, full protection of agricultural land not the weasel words of protecting only the “best of the best” and protection of rural residential estates.

‘Neither this announcement nor the strategic cropping land policy offer the protection our food bowls and rural communities need.

‘There is still a long way to go but it is a relief to see our major parties finally competing to offer protection to Queensland communities in the lead up to the state election.’

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