Premier Campbell Newman gets a kiss from Bindi and Terri Irwin after announcing that Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve on Cape York will be forever protected.
Premier Campbell Newman gets a kiss from Bindi and Terri Irwin after announcing that Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve on Cape York will be forever protected. Amy Remeikis, Brisbanetimes

Steve Irwin Reserve on Cape York given Qld first protection

THE Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve and the Wenlock River on Cape York Peninsula will be declared Queensland's first ever 'strategic environmental area'.

Premier Campbell Newman today said the declaration would protect one of Queensland's most environmentally significant areas. 

"Today's announcement shows the LNP Government is committed to preserving this ecologically significant part of Queensland for future generations," Mr Newman said.

"This will be the first of many ecologically-sensitive areas across Queensland declared a strategic environmental area.

"When finalised, this declaration will protect these unique areas from open cut and strip mining, and other activities that risk widespread impacts to their ecological integrity.

"Despite all its green grandstanding, Labor's Wild Rivers legislation would have allowed mining to occur on the majority of the Irwin's property, but under the draft Cape York Regional Plan the entire reserve will be protected.

"We plan to offer similar protections to environmentally important areas across Queensland under legislation to be introduced into State Parliament today by my colleague the Deputy Premier."

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the Newman Government was delivering on its key commitment for Cape York to provide opportunities for sustainable economic development, balanced with the protection of the Cape's natural environmental areas.

"This announcement demonstrates that co-existence can occur between environmental protection and sustainable development under the Newman Government," Mr Powell said.

"By protecting the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in perpetuity, this government recognises the value of protecting this exceptional piece of biodiversity for Queensland for future generations."

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Jeff Seeney said today's announcement would be made possible under the proposed Regional Planning Interests Bill 2013 to be introduced into State Parliament this afternoon.

"Today's announcement is the first planned use of a new regional planning instrument that will allow us to protect not only these significant environmental areas on the Cape, but sensitive environmental areas in other parts of Queensland," Mr Seeney said.

"We are resetting the balance, by scrapping the Wenlock, Archer, Stewart and Lockhart Basin Wild River declarations in the region, and addressing land-use planning issues through the draft Cape York Regional Plan to be released today.

"Labor's Wild Rivers Act excluded almost all development from around the rivers and tributaries within four basins of the Cape York region, restricting the rights of local Cape communities to plan a sound economic future based on jobs and self-determination."



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