Worry brews over Qld mine objection review

The right for community groups to have Queensland mining projects scrutinised by the Land Court should not be diminished as a review into the objections process gains momentum, advocates say.

Draft terms of reference for the Queensland Law Reform Commission review already have some environmental groups worried.

They ask the commission to take into account opportunities for people to "have their say and seek a review" and at what stage an advisory panel or a court should consider an objection.

A response by environmental group Lock The Gate raised "major concerns" with the draft, and requests an urgent meeting.

"We are very concerned to see that the (terms of reference) appear to open a doorway to reducing public participation by effectively including an alternative model of some sort of panel rather than access to the Land Court," the response says.

"We want to see references to an advisory body removed from the Terms of Reference and specific mention made of the Land Court."

Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the government is committed to providing opportunities for community participation in the mining approvals process.

"The terms of reference have not been finalised," he said in a statement.

"I encourage all stakeholders to continue to provide their feedback to the draft, and to participate in the consultation when the independent Queensland Law Reform Commission starts its review."

As it stands, people have the right to ask the Land Court to review the merits of mining project approvals, the Environmental Defenders Office said.

"The right of communities to have the court review planning approvals ensures the impacts of major projects are properly scrutinised, with input from experts qualified to analyse the environmental, social and economic impact assessments," EDO Healthy Environment and Justice Director Nicole Sommer said.

"The Law Reform Commission's review of these laws should ensure these objection rights are retained as a minimum standard, and should focus on improving the quality of these rights."

An industry development plan released in June flagged the review, and notes it will also investigate legislative changes to "streamline public notification processes ... while maintaining opportunities for community participation".

The review is expected begin early next year and report to government by January 2025.