The Water Act 2000 (Qld) (Act) has recently been amended to extend the expiry date on water licences to a period of 99 years. Section 213A has been inserted into the Act to set the expiry date of all current water licences at 30 June 2111.
This extension does not prevent the cancellation or surrender of a water licence, nor does it apply to expiry dates for water licences stated in water resource plans, resource operations plans or wild river declarations.
Previously, water licences were granted for periods of up to 20 years for a licence to take water solely for stock or domestic purposes, or up to 10 years for licences for other purposes.
On expiry, licence holders were required to reapply for the licence to be renewed, exposing them to the possibility of a reduction in their authority to use the water or a cancellation of the licence.
The original rationale behind the renewal process was to allow for the implementation of any changes which may have occurred to natural resource management policy during the licence period. However, as water resource plans and resource operations plans currently cover 90 percent of the State and represent the principal water planning mechanisms for the allocation and sustainable management of water in Queensland, the statutory renewal process was found to be unnecessary.