Greens MP and mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has labelled the Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy announcement a breach of their promise to the communities of regional NSW.
“The National Party has either deliberately abandoned the interests of farmers to the big mining corporations, or else they’ve been comprehensively rolled by the Liberal Party,” Mr Buckingham said.
“This means projects like the Shenhua Watermark and BHP Caroona coal projects on the Liverpool Plains are still on the table and can be fast tracked by a political decision. This is Barry O’Farrell’s very own Part 3A plan.
“The plans and policies announced today rule in the entire state for potential coal and coal seam gas mining. Every part of NSW is still up for grabs to big coal and gas companies.
“While the coal and gas industry might have more certainty under the plan, communities will be tied up in more submission writing and have no confidence that their properties and farms will not be subject to mining.
“Under the Government’s ‘Gateway’ process, no part of NSW is guaranteed protection. Outside of National Parks, other sensitive environmental areas are simply ignored in the plan.
“The state’s agricultural land, water supplies, urban and environmentally sensitive areas remain at risk of being mined.
The new rules provide an overriding clause for the Cabinet to consider a project ‘exceptional circumstance’ based on the value of the resource. Under this provision the Gateway requirements would not need to be met meaning a public interest test and soil and aquifer impact assessments could be avoided.
“This ‘exceptional circumstance’ provision is a get out of jail card for the Government to allow coal and gas development on our most productive agricultural land,” Mr Buckingham said.
“The mining and gas industry will be very happy with today’s announcement. It is business as usual in NSW.
“The Government has left out some of our most important food growing areas from these land use plans. Coal seam gas exploration is slated for the Hawkesbury, Central Coast, Mid North and North Coasts where there is significant agricultural production.
“These plans fail the most basic tests. The State’s food growing areas remain at risk of mining.
“If the Government won’t act to protect agricultural land and the environment the community will be forced to take their own action. The Greens are behind the community in this campaign,” Mr Buckingham said.
Contact: Jeremy Buckingham on 9230 2202