A large chunk of Queensland could be off-limits to dam-building if planned environmental protection laws get up, the Opposition has claimed.
A large chunk of Queensland could be off-limits to dam-building if planned environmental protection laws get up, the Opposition has claimed.

New laws a dambuster, claims LNP

A LARGE chunk of Queensland could be subject to strict new environmental protections under a State Government proposal the Opposition says would stop its dam-building New Bradfield Scheme in its tracks.

The Sunday Mail can reveal the Government is looking to impose new environmental standards in the state's southwest.

The proposed strategic environmental area in the Lake Eyre Basin would mean water storage projects in the region would have to meet tough criteria before going ahead.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has hit out at the proposal, claiming it would prevent new dams and irrigation projects in what could be one of the most fertile regions of the country.

"There is no bigger issue in Queensland than water security, and it is shameful that Labor are trying to stop the LNP's New Bradfield Scheme in its tracks," she said.

"Queensland needs a stronger economy and the only way to deliver that is to back our regions and build job-creating infrastructure like the New Bradfield Scheme.

"The LNP will unlock the potential of the Outback, but all Labor wants to do is lock it up and throw away the key."

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch insisted it would still be possible to apply to build a dam in a strategic environmental area.

However she confirmed the application would have to meet criteria in the Regional Planning Interests Regulation.

It is understood this would include proving activity in the strategic environmental area would not lead to "widespread or irreversible impact" on an "environmental attribute".

"The proposed strategic environmental area is being considered as part of consultation with stakeholders," Ms Enoch said.

"The proposed framework will increase protections for streams and floodplains in the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin, since those protections were removed by the former LNP government."

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the LNP had prohibited dams in the Lake Eyre basin waterways under the Regional Interest Planning Act when it was in government.

The Lake Eyre Basin stretches from the South Australia borders and northeast to Hughenden. Under the LNP plan, which it says will help "droughtproof" Queensland and generate thousands of jobs, water from the scheme would irrigate about 80,000 square kilometres of soil in the southwest.