New restrictions in New South Wales from today will aim to solve the disputes between farmers and miners by placing a moratorium all new coal mining. CSG and petroleum until it can be proven the operations will not damage land or water resources.
The mining industry believes the 60-day moratorium is unnecessary, saying it could have dire consequences for state’s major export.
But it has acknowledged new ways of dealing with the conflicts between farmers, environmentalists and mining companies needs an overhaul.
Yesterday, Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard announced the first stage of the state government’s regional land use policy, after promising to make moves to solve the issues prior to this year’s election.
“Prior to the election, the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government announced that it would introduce a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy to strike the right balance between our important agricultural, mining and energy sectors – while ensuring the protection of high value conservation lands,” Hazzard said.
“We are not delivering on that commitment.’
The now-Premier Barry O-Farrell in the lead up to the election that the Liberal government would declare the Dharawal Conservation area national parkland to prevent mining there, before experts pointed out that doing so would not necessarily prevent mining companies from operating.
The new agreements will mean exploration license applications for coal, coal seam gas (CSG) and petroleum made after the moratorium is put in place will have to be put on public display for comment, a “new benchmark in transparency” according to the state government.
The applications will now also include agricultural impact statements.
A reference group made up of 11 representatives from business, agricultural, environment and Aboriginal groups will be set up to give advice on developing the final policy.
“The policy includes a number of immediate and longer term measures designed to address the issues occurring now, as well as providing better certainty to our communities and industry about how regions will change over time,” Hazzard said.
He said the changes will aim to provide tailored approaches to the specific needs of individual communities and projects, based on the Regional Strategic Plans.
“Regional Strategic Plans will ensure a balanced and sustainable management of competing land uses in each region rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to land use planning.
“These plans will provide local communities with far greater certainty about how their region will change over time.”
Hazzard said preparation plans for all strategically important regions will begin within twelve months.
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