Areas of regional interest
The Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (RPI Act) identifies and protects areas of regional interest throughout Queensland.
It aims 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.
Its role 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.
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.
- Priority agricultural areas (PAAs)
- Priority living areas (PLAs)
- Strategic environmental areas (SEAs)
- Strategic cropping area (SCA)
View interactive mapping (or other mapping products in PDF format further below).
Regional interests development approvals (RIDA)
A resource activity cannot be carried out in an area of regional interest unless a person holds or is acting under a Regional Interests Development Approval (RIDA) for the activity.
A RIDA provides approval for carrying out of a resource activity in an area of regional interest.
A RIDA is subject to an assessment of the extent of the expected impact of the resource activity on the area of regional interest.
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.
The Regional Planning Interests Regulation 2014 prescribes the fees related to regional interest development applications and the amounts used to calculate mitigation values (relevant to strategic cropping land). From 1 July 2022, the Queensland Government has a new mechanism for how fees are updated annually to reflect indexation.
Fees related to regional interest development applications and mitigation values are now expressed as units, rather than dollars. The fee unit value prescribed in the Acts Interpretation (Fee Unit) Regulation 2022. The fee unit value will be updated annually in line with the Government Indexation Rate (GIR).
More information about this change is available at Queensland Treasury.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the correct fees are paid. For ease of use, a schedule of fees and charges converted to dollar amounts is available.
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.
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.
There are some occasions when proposed resource activities and regulated activities are exempt from seeking a regional interests development application. These include:
- Section 22 Exemption – agreement of landowner
Intended to allow persons or organisations carrying out resource activities to enter into a voluntary written agreement with the landholder in circumstances where a legislatively required conduct and compensation agreement has not already been required and entered into. It is limited to priority agricultural areas and strategic cropping areas.
- Section 23 Exemption - activity carried out for less than 1 year
Intended to allow resource activities being carried out for less than a year on a property in priority agricultural areas or strategic cropping areas to be carried out without the need for a RIDA.
- Section 24 Exemption – pre-existing resource activity ( 145.9 KB)
Intended to allow the continued operation of mining and petroleum activities that were being carried out under an approval before the 13 June 2014 when the RPI Act commenced. The department is of the view that exemption only applies to the extent of the resource activities identified on the relevant pre-existing approvals. Any activities beyond that would either require a RIDA or need to be consistent with a separate exemption.
- Section 24A Exemption—wild river area under the repealed Wild Rivers Act 2005
Intended to allow the continued operation of mining and petroleum activities that were carried out under an environmental authority applied for or given before 1 October 2014 when the Wild Rivers Act was repealed. It only applies if the activities are being carried out on land that is in a strategic environmental area. If the environmental authority is amended after 1 October 2014 and the amendment changes the extent of surface impacts or location of those impacts the exemption no longer applies and the activities would either require a RIDA or need to be consistent with a separate exemption.
- Section 25 Exemption—pre-existing regulated activity
Intended to allow the operation of regulated activities that approved under the Planning Act or the repealed Sustainable Planning Act 2009 before 13 June 2014 when the RPI Act commenced.
- Section 103 SCL compliance certificate
Which is intended to provide continuity for SCL compliance certificates in strategic cropping areas that were given under the repealed Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011. The department is of the view that the SCL compliance certificate only applies in strategic cropping areas and to the extent of the resource activities listed on the certificate. Any activities beyond that would either require a RIDA or need to be consistent with a separate exemption.
Further information about exemptions is provided in the guideline for each area of regional interest.
- Section 22 Exemption – agreement of landowner
Before undertaking a resource activity under a exemption it is expected that there is communication to landowners and adjoining land owners about where the activity is proposed to occur, the extent of activity proposed and any expected impacts.
It is expected this communication occurs prior to works commencing.
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.
Mapping - Areas of regional interest (PDF)
Maps of all areas of regional interest are available in a searchable spatial format.
You can also access maps for areas of regional interest found in the following regional plans:
Maps in PDF format prescribed in the Regional Planning Interests Regulation 2014 are also available:
- Channel Country Strategic Environmental Area
- Fraser Island Strategic Environmental Area
- Gulf Rivers Strategic Environmental Area
- Hinchinbrook Island Strategic Environmental Area
The strategic cropping area (SCA) consists of the areas shown on the strategic cropping land (SCL) trigger map as SCL. More detailed information on the SCL trigger map (including versions in PDF format) can be found through the Department of Resources.
RPI Act forms
- RPI assessment application form - version 3.1 effective 1 August 2019 ( 274.3 KB)
- RPI assessment application form - version 3.1 effective 1 August 2019 ( 177.4 KB)
- RPI regional interests development approval public notification example - version 2.3 effective 4 January 2023 ( 108.4 KB)
- RPI regional interests development approval public notification template - version 2.3 effective 4 January 2023 ( 232.0 KB)
RPI Act guidelines
- RPI Act guideline 01/14 - How to make an assessment application under the RPI Act
- RPI Act guideline 02/14 - Carrying out activities in priority agricultural area
- RPI Act guideline 03/14 - Carrying out activities in the strategic cropping area
- RPI Act guideline 04/14 - Carrying out activities in a priority living area
- RPI Act guideline 05/14 - Carrying out resource and regulated activities in a strategic environment area
- RPI Act guideline 06/14 - Notification requirements under the RPI Act
- RPI Act guideline 07/17 - How to identify a priority agrcultural land use
- RPI Act guideline 08/14 - How to demonstrate that land in the strategic cropping area does not meet the criteria for strategic cropping land
- RPI Act guideline 09/14 - How to determine if an activity has a permanent impact on strategic cropping land
- RPI Act guideline 10/14 - Changes to the SCL Trigger map: Implications for activities in the strategic cropping area
- RPI Act guideline 11/16 Companion guide
GasFields Commission Queensland (the Commission ) Review of RPI Act Assessment Process
On 1 November 2021 the Commission published its review of the assessment processes under the RPI Act. The report included seven recommendations for Queensland Government consideration and action.
The Queensland Government response to the Commission supports four of the recommendations and supports in principle the remaining three recommendations. You can view the Queensland Government response to the Commission’s review ( 95.5 KB).
This webpage will be updated with changes to the RPI Act as a result of the Commission’s review.
Last updated: 28 Jul 2023