First ‘strategic environmental area’ named

In Australian Cultural Exports, Australian Domestic Tourism, Government, National Headlines, Queensland

Qld Government to protect Steve Irwin reserve in Cape York from mining

By Kirsty Nancarrow, story from

Updated Wed 20 Nov 2013, 4:54pm AEDT

The Queensland Government has announced the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve and the Wenlock River in Cape York will be protected from open-cut and strip mining.

The area is the first to be named a “strategic environmental area” under the Regional Planning Interests Bill to go before Parliament today.

It coincides with the release of the draft Cape York regional plan, which is designed to boost economic development while protecting sensitive environmental areas.

Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell says it goes further than the former Labor government’s Wild Rivers legislation, which it is designed to replace.

“There really is no better than the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve,” he said.

“It was purchased by the Howard government, in tribute to Steve.

“It is fantastic to be part of a government that now will protect it into perpetuity.

“That means no mining – not any, not some, not now, not ever – on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.”

Premier Campbell Newman says there will be no compensation offered to Cape Alumina, which had an interest in mining bauxite on the reserve.

“This has a very direct impact on their proposals,” he said.

“They wanted to go into this area and that won’t be feasible in this location.

“There’ll be no mine on this location, on this designated land, on this reserve – they are aware of that.

“The Government’s made this call and we’ve advised them of that.”

Company ‘bitterly disappointed’

Cape Alumina has since gone into a trading halt.

A company spokesman says the State Government’s announcement has taken the company by surprise, and it is bitterly disappointed.

Bindi Irwin says the declaration will ensure the Wildlife Reserve will continue to honour her father’s conservation work.

“It’s the most pristine land on planet Earth and we are just thrilled,” she said.

“This is probably the greatest day of my life so really happy, completely amazed and just, wow.

“We’ll continue to carry on in dad’s footsteps and make sure this land continues – this is amazing.”

Tim Seelig from the Wilderness Society says it is a positive decision.

“We are very excited about this move if all the details are correct,” he said.

“The Government has appropriately moved to ensure that mining is prohibited around the river and on the reserve.”

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