Competing land uses have become a highly publicised issue in recent months, with the age old agriculture verses mining debate continuing. The expansion of residential estates into traditionally agricultural areas and new industries such as coal seam gas have left many concerned about the loss of highly productive agricultural land.
In response, the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) announced the Strategic Cropping Land policy framework in August 2010. The policy has now been finalised and is expected to be implemented later this year. In the meantime, transitional arrangements requiring new projects to consider effects on Strategic Cropping Land have been implemented and took effect from 31 May 2011. Further information on the transitional arrangements is available at:
Maps of areas in which Strategic Cropping Land is expected to occur have been released and can be viewed at:
Proposed criteria for identifying Strategic Cropping Land were released by the DERM in April 2011. These criteria identify thresholds in soil characteristics relating to slope, soil depth, soil pH and salinity which will trigger the land to be classified as Strategic Cropping Land. Thresholds for these criteria vary for different parts of the state. Although this criterion is not concrete, it has been designed to enable assessment of whether a property’s soils can be categorised as Strategic Cropping Land. The proposed criteria can be viewed at:
Further guidelines about how to apply the criteria at a property level are expected to be released by DERM in the near future.