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Areas of regional interest

The Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (RPI Act) identifies and protects areas of regional interest throughout Queensland.

Its aim is to:

  • manage the impact of resource and regulated activities on areas of regional interest
  • support these activities with other activities, such as highly productive agricultural activities
  • assist in resolving land use conflict between activities which contribute to the state's economy.

The Regional Planning Interests Regulation 2014 supports the RPI Act.

Together, the RPI Act and Regulation aim to strike an appropriate balance between protecting priority land uses and delivering a diverse and prosperous economic future for our regions. It also provides the framework which is applied to Queensland's regional plans.

Forms, guidelines and fact sheets are available on how to make an online application for a regional interests development approval (RIDA). Visit our online planning services to make an application. You will need to register when making an online application. You can also view all applications, submissions and decision notices.

View interactive mapping (or other mapping products in PDF format further below).

There are four areas of regional interest. Each area has been identified because of its contribution, or likely contribution, to Queensland's economic, social and environmental prosperity.

Areas of regional interest

  • Priority agricultural areas (PAAs) are areas of regionally significant agricultural production that are identified in a regional plan or prescribed under the RPI Regulation.

    Identifying PAAs ensures resource activities that seek to operate in these areas do not unreasonably constrain, restrict or prevent on-going agricultural operation.

    The assessment criteria for PAAs allow for compatible resource activities to co-exist with high value agricultural land uses. However, the activity must not result in a material impact on a priority agricultural land use.

    The assessment criteria in the RPI Regulation provide regional outcomes and prescribed solutions for managing impact.

  • Priority living areas (PLAs) have been established to safeguard areas required for the growth of towns from incompatible resource activities. All applications for resource activities in a PLA must be publicly notified, unless the Chief Executive of the RPI Act grants and exemption.

    This gives communities a say about whether a resource activity is appropriate to operate within proximity of their towns.

    The local government is the assessing agency for any application made for a resource activity in a PLA.

    How the proposed activity is likely to result in community benefits and what opportunities it will bring to the community needs to be taken into consideration when assessing activity in a PLA.

    The applicant is expected to liaise with the relevant local government to understand how best to minimise the community impacts and maximise benefits. The Chief Executive considers their response when deciding the application.

  • Strategic environmental areas (SEAs) have been identified as containing regionally significant environmental attributes (for example, bio-diversity, water catchments and ecological function).

    Within these areas, protection of ecological integrity is the priority land use; however, this does not preclude development from occurring in these areas.

    Development will be facilitated where it can be demonstrated that the ecological integrity of SEAs is not jeopardised.

  • The Strategic cropping area (SCA) is an area of regional interest because it includes land that is, or likely to be, highly suitable for cropping due to a combination of the land’s soil, climate and landscape features.

    Find out more about strategic cropping land trigger mapping (which makes up the SCA).

About the RPI Act

  • A resource activity is defined under section 12 of the RPI Act and includes:

    • an activity for which a resource authority is required or
    • an activity that is authorised under a resource authority or proposed resource authority.

    Importantly, a resource authority under the RPI Act does not include all resource authorities under resource Acts. An activity authorised under the following resource authorities is not included in the definition of a resource activity under the RPI Act and is not subject to the provisions of the RPI Act:

    • a prospecting permit under the Mineral Resources Act 1989
    • a petroleum survey licence under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004
    • a data acquisition authority under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004
    • a water monitoring program under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.
  • The RPI Act provides that a regulated activity is an activity that is prescribed in the RPI Regulation because it is likely to have a widespread and irreversible impact on an area of regional interest. Widespread means spread over or occupying a wide space. Irreversible means not able to be undone or altered.

    The following activities are prescribed as regulated activities in a strategic environmental area:

    • broadacre cropping
    • water storage (dam).
  • For a resource activity, only an eligible person may apply for a regional interests development application (RIDA). An eligible person is any person who holds, or has applied or may apply for, an environmental authority or resource authority for the resource activity.

    For a regulated activity, a person who intends to carry out the regulated activity in an area of regional interests may apply for a RIDA.

  • Applications made under the RPI Act for a regional interest development applications (RIDA) will be assessed and decided by the Chief Executive administering the RPI Act. Some applications may be assessed by local government or another state agency as well.

    Assessing agencies are prescribed in the RPI Regulation and differ depending on the area of regional interest that the activity is located within and the impact the activity will have on the area of regional interest.

  • Yes, a resource company is required to compensate landholders when the activities they carry out on land have an impact on the landholder’s business or land use. Resource companies must still negotiate compensation with landholders before undertaking activities on land.

    More information about Conduct and Compensation Agreements is available from the Department of Resources and the Business and Industry Portal.

  • An owner of land is defined under the RPI Act as:

    • the person for the time being entitled to receive the rent for the land or who would be entitled to receive rent for if it were let to a tenant at a rent or
    • the lessee of a lease issued under the Land Act 1994 for agricultural, grazing or pastoral purposes.

    All owners are required to be given a copy of the application at least five business days after it has been lodged with the Chief Executive. Owners can lodge a submission expressing their concerns about, or support for, an application lodged under the RPI Act, for consideration by the Chief Executive as part of the assessment.

    Where an application is located within a priority agricultural area (PAA) or strategic cropping area (SCA), it is a requirement of the applicant to have consulted and negotiated with the owner prior to lodging the application.

  • The RPI Act provides an exemption for a pre-existing resource activity (refer to Section 24). A resource activity is pre-existing if, immediately before land became or becomes land in an area of regional interest, a resource activity may be ‘carried out lawfully’ on the land .

    Further information on these exemptions are provided within the guidelines for each area of regional interest.

  • There are some occasions when proposed resource activities and regulated activities are exempt from seeking a regional interests development application. The circumstances when these exemptions apply are set out in sections 22-25 and 99 of the RPI Act.

    Further information about exemptions is provided in the guideline for each area of regional interest.

  • Yes, unless otherwise provided for under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

    The RPI Act does not exclude any activity or project from obtaining other necessary approvals and permits as required under Federal and state government legislation and local government planning schemes and instruments.

  • Yes. The RPI Act integrates the Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011 policy framework for 'on-tenure' resource activities. The RPI Act carries forward strategic cropping land policies through:

    • declaring the strategic cropping area as an area of regional interest
    • applying the strategic cropping area (SCA) Assessment Criteria to activities within the priority agricultural area (PAA)
    • providing for the Chief Executive to condition mitigation as part of a regional interest development application issued for an activity in the SCA.

    The SCA Assessment Criteria are included in Schedule 2 of the RPI Regulation.

    For further information on the content of the SCA assessment criteria and on how an applicant may address the SCA assessment criteria, refer to RPI Act Statutory Guideline 03/14: Carrying out resource activities in the strategic cropping area .

  • An appeal against a decision made under the RPI Act may be commenced by:

    • the applicant
    • if the applicant is not the owner of the land - the owner of the land
    • an affected land owner.

    An owner of the land is the person for the time being entitled to receive rent for the land or would be entitled to receive rent for it if it were let to a tenant, or an agricultural, grazing or pastoral leaseholder under the Land Act 1994.

    An affected land owner means a person who owns land that may be adversely affected by the resource activity or regulated activity because of:

    • the proximity of the affected land to the land the subject of the decision and
    • the impact the activity may have on an area of regional interest.

    Where an appeal is made, it will be made to and heard by the Planning and Environment Court.

  • The river systems in Queensland that were declared under the (now repealed) Wild Rivers legislation have been rolled into the RPI Act framework as strategic environmental areas (SEAs). These are:

    • the Cape York strategic environmental area (as per the Cape York Regional Plan)
    • the North Queensland strategic environmental area (as per the North Queensland Regional Plan)
    • the Channel Country strategic environmental area (prescribed under regulation)
    • the Fraser Island strategic environmental area (prescribed under regulation)
    • the Gulf Rivers strategic environmental area (prescribed under regulation)
    • the Hinchinbrook Island strategic environmental area (prescribed under regulation).

    A regional interest development application will be required for resource activities, broadacre cropping and water storage (dam) proposed within SEAs. These activities are assessed against the criteria outlined in the RPI Regulation.

Helpful information

Last updated: 22 Jul 2021