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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Government acts to further protect Great Barrier Reef

    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Government acts to further protect Great Barrier Reef

    The Queensland Government is taking further action to protect freshwater wetlands in river systems that flow into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

    Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones today announced the release of draft laws to protect wetlands of high ecological significance (HES) at risk of environmental damage from high impact earthworks.

    “Wetlands are the Reef’s natural kidneys and without them the Reef would suffocate. They play a vital role in the state’s landscape and biodiversity,” Ms Jones said.

    “But they have been at risk of environmental damage because in the past major earthworks on freehold land have not required a development approval.

    “The draft State Planning Policy released today aims to permanently address this concern.”

    Ms Jones said members of the community are invited to comment on the draft policy, which is the next step toward cementing the Temporary State Planning Policy put in place for Great Barrier Reef wetlands protection earlier this year.

    “The protection of Queensland’s wetlands is part of the Bligh Government’s 10 year reef water quality protection plan released in 2009,” she said.

    “Following consultation and consideration of more than 50 pubic submissions regarding the Temporary policy, the government has decided that permanent planning and development laws are required and should be extended to the southern catchments of the Burnett and Mary Rivers.

    “The draft laws will apply to wetlands of high ecological significance from the Mary River to the Daintree River catchments.

    “These wetlands cover a small area and are vulnerable to major development yet they play a vital role in maintaining water quality and are often essential habitat for iconic native wildlife.

    “The new State Planning Policy is about developing a consistent local government approach to ensure that activities in GBR catchments do not hinder natural water flows.”

    The draft laws provide permanent planning and development requirements for draining, filling and levelling works and building channels or diversion banks near designated HES wetlands.

    Domestic and low-impact earthworks, such as fencing or the construction of small structures like sheds, remain exempt from the draft laws, as are routine agricultural activities such as crop rotation, fallowing fields and harvesting.

    The draft planning laws can be viewed at www.derm.qld.gov.au or by contacting the SPP Project Manager on 13 74 68.

    Public consultation is open until Friday 28 February, 2011

    Media Contact: 3239 0818