Locals fighting mining and energy developments in NSW say they will be badly weakened by a proposed funding cut to the state’s Environmental Defender’s Office.
According to Fairfax Media the independent agency, which provides free legal services to communities battling mining developments, will have its annual $2.5 million budget lowered by the O’Farrell Government.
While mining developments have grown across NSW, the funds dished out by the Office have declined over the past five years, and the organisation has warned its staff of 25 that jobs will be cut if funding is withdrawn.
Earlier this year speculation rose that the Office may face a funding cut after its representatives met with anti-coal seam gas group Lock the Gate.
The meeting drew the ire of NSW energy minister Chris Hartcher, who claimed the Office was partaking in a “left agenda to destroy the economy”.
According to Fairfax Media Hartcher’s factional ally Greg Smith, the Attorney-General, controls funding to the EDO and is understood to support dismantling the agency.
A meeting over the Office’s funding is set for Thursday, and Smith has final approval on any proposal.