Traditional Owners granted first Cape York Heritage Area water licences

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water The Honourable Glenn Butcher

Traditional owners in the Cape Yorke Peninsula Heritage Area have been granted water licences under the region’s water plan for the first time.

Minister for Water Glenn Butcher made the announcement as part of National Water Week – with this year’s theme of Caring for water and for Country.

Minister Butcher said two water licences, accounting for more than 5000 megalitres, had been granted to a Traditional Owner group in the Coleman and Normanby catchments.

“These water licences and the discussions leading up to them represent meaningful change towards collaborative resource management with Traditional Owners,” Mr Butcher said.

“The CYPHA reserve, established under the Cape York Water Plan, provides for more than 485,000 megalitres of water reserved for Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders in Cape York to achieve their social, economic and cultural aspirations.

“During the development of the water plan we heard from Traditional Owners who wanted a greater say in water resource management on Country.

“We have provided this opportunity through the provisions of the water plan and the granting of water licences which enable eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups who manage Country to make decisions about if or how this water is used.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the awarding of the water licences was an important milestone for Traditional Owners in Far North Queensland.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work that has been involved in granting the water licences for the Traditional owners in the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Area,” Ms Lui said.

“For me, this is one of the many strong and progressive ways forward that we want to see that will make a positive influence in the society in which we live in today.”

Eligible entities include:

  • entities that hold Aboriginal freehold land, such as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation or land trust
  • a native title holder, such as a registered native title body corporate (RNTBC)

Eligible entities can make a request to the department for their share of the CYPHA reserve at any time.

As the share of the CYPHA reserve in a catchment is proportional to the eligible entity’s area of interest, it cannot be allocated to anyone else and will stay in the CYPHA reserve until it is requested.

Holders of a CYPHA water licence can choose to not use the licence leaving the water in the rivers and creeks, activate the licence and use the water for a project, or temporarily assign all or part of the licence to another person or entity to use for an agreed period of time.

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