Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 206 Basin rivers. The Wild Rivers Act was amended in 2010 to restrict development on the floodplains of Queensland’s Lake Eyre Basin river systems. Wild Rivers declarations were subsequently approved for the Cooper Creek and the Georgina and Diamantina Wild Rivers (16 December 2011), imposing specific statutory measures to protect five key factors: hydrological processes, geomorphic processes, riparian function, wildlife corridor function, and water quality (Fig. 20.3). As well, parts of the rivers were spatially identified on maps as High Preservation Areas (HPAs) and Special Floodplain Management Areas (SFMAs), requiring special management. The declarations and specific statutory measures protected Cooper Creek and the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers, from their headwaters to the South Australian border. Other controls regulated removal of quarry materials and forest products taking or interfering with water in a watercourse, lake or spring, or floodplain (overland flow) and construction of in-stream structures. There were also controls on aquaculture, agriculture and animal husbandry and restrictions on the clearing of native vegetation. The declarations also prohibited surface mining in designated areas. In addition, they regulated ‘setback’ distances for certain works and operations, controlled under the Transport Infrastructure, Mineral Resources, Petroleum and Gas and Petroleum Acts (Table 20.1). The declarations also specified requirements for environment impact statements and environmental management with development approval. These controls did not apply to existing activities or works, or residential, commercial or industrial development in urban areas. Wild Rivers declarations had the ‘head of power’ to significantly constrain exploration and development by the mining and gas industries where impacts to rivers and river systems were likely. These industries constantly lobbied Queensland governments to remove these development constraints by repealing the Wild Rivers Act and revoking Wild Rivers declarations, arguing that they made investment uncertain (Queensland Resources Council 2010). The Liberal National Party Government (2012–15) amended the legislation, allowing increases in the size of workforce accommodation, the size for multi-well sites, fuel storage Fig. 20.3. The boom in food and nutrients provided by floods is critical to the animals, including waterbirds, plants and other organisms of the rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin. Protection of these floods is critical to the future viability of the unique rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin, the people and environments that depend on them (photo, A. Emmott).
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