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Marty Silk

Qld urged to speed up Lake Eyre protection

The Lock the Gate alliance wants the Qld government to relase plans to protect the Lake Eyre basin. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

The Queensland government is being urged not to delay plans for environmental protections for the Lake Eyre Basin.

A plan to protect the vast wilderness near the South Australia, Northern Territory and NSW borders are being drafted based on advice from a panel of conservationists, traditional owners, farmers, councils and mining companies.

The Department of Environment and Science is probing the legal impacts of the plan, but it hasn't set a deadline to release those findings.

"This is an extensive body of work that needs to be done thoroughly and properly, and stakeholders will be advised when the consultation Regulatory Impact Statement is released," a department spokesperson told AAP.

The Lock the Gate Alliance has urged the government to publish the document before Christmas, saying it was already long overdue as Labor had promised to protect the Lake Eyre Basin at the last three election.

The activist group's state coordinator Ellie Smith said the government had a history of quietly releasing important documents during the summer holidays, or trying to hide them from the public.

"Two years into the current electoral cycle we're concerned that the clock is ticking to finally get these reforms done and give certainty to the community and industry," Ms Smith said in a statement.

"We're calling on the Palaszczuk government to release its regulatory impact statement well before the Christmas break, and for the government to fulfil its own promises to protect the rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin."

Labor initially promised protections similar to previous Wild Rivers laws, which prohibited developments that impacted the health of declared rivers.

However, it has since focused on balancing environmental protections with sustainable development and ensuring all voices, particularly Traditional Owners, are heard.

While the plan is being developed, the Palaszczuk government quietly approved shale oil exploration permits for an area the size of the ACT in the Lake Eyre Basin region.

In late October, Origin Energy was granted 11 ten-year permits to look for oil, which is the first step towards opening the area to fracking.

The Department of Resources said Origin said the company would also have to apply for separate environmental and regional planning approvals before it could start drilling.

Last month, a scientific study flagged major concerns about the scale of oil and gas projects on the Lake Eyre Basin floodplains in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Researchers used satellite imagery to show that there were 831 existing projects with roads were interrupting natural flooding regimes and water in storages reservoirs was potentially polluting waterways during floods.

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