Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 218 The responsible Minister could propose any part of Queensland for consideration as a wild river area. A Wild Rivers declaration was a statutory instrument that described the wild river and its catchment area, wild river requirements, and circumstances in which parts of the Wild Rivers Code or other development assessment code apply. The natural values that Wild Rivers declarations sought to protect were: hydrological processes, meaning unimpeded runoff, stream flow, aquifer and spring recharge geomorphic processes, meaning free movement of sediments along the river system to allow for stable beds and banks and sediment delivery to estuaries and floodplains water of sufficient physical, chemical and biological quality to meet human and ecological needs intact riparian function along stream banks, for food and habitat for native animals, and areas of sufficient natural habitat within and along river systems for wildlife corridors. The formal declaration process began with a notice of intent, accompanied by a moratorium on any application for water entitlements or licences or new works on the river or the floodplain that could interfere with the natural flow of water. This was followed by a period of community consultation. There were no specific statutory provisions as to how consultation would occur. In 2011 amendments, the Minister was given the power to establish an Indigenous reference group to advise on matters relating to the declaration, or the management of the wild river area. Matters of advice could include proposals for development in the wild river area, or proposed wild river area (Wild Rivers Act 2005, section 47A). The Minister would consider the results of community consultation, all properly made public submissions, and if an Indigenous reference group was established, advice from that group. Although mining tenures would generally not operate in High Preservation Areas and Special Floodplain Areas, under the Wild Rivers declarations, the protection of the Wild Rivers areas did not extend to mining leases issued under or any projects declared as significant under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld). Declarations could be amended through a legislative process defined in the Wild Rivers Act 2005. For example, the declaration for the Cooper Creek was amended in May 2013 to provide for safety and efficiency for petroleum and gas operations. Operational works are now allowed in a flood channel, or below or at bed level of the flood channel, if considered reasonable. Among the amendments, this included increasing temporary accommodation for workforce from 2240 m2 to 1 ha and 30 to 60 people. Also, the size of multi-well sites could increase from 3 to up to 5 ha, with no restriction on the number of well heads on the one site, fuel storage and compression facilities. Further, pipelines could be built in High Preservation Areas, after assessment under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, and operational works allowed within a flood channel provided no barriers to flood flows are created. Although much of the protection of the Wild Rivers Act 2005 and the declaration in the Cooper Creek remained, the changes passed by the Liberal National Government (2012–15) appeared to provide more for operational efficiency and less for operational safety of gas and
Previous Page Next Page