Governments ramp up moves for wider mining bans

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Upper Hunter mayor Lee Watts has told miners the region is “not open for business” after the council introduced a mining exclusion zone for most of the shire.

The council said coal or gas developments should be banned without stronger protection of water to protect the equine industry and prime agricultural land.

The council does not have the ultimate authority to impose such bans, but Watts said the move was an attempt to take community leadership on the issue.

She said the exclusion policy would be put to the NSW government as part of a future strategic land-use plan.

The shire’s announcement is the latest in a growing move to protect agricultural land from mining developments.

Yesterday the Queensland government announced it would bring forward legislation aimed at blocking intensive resource development on prime agricultural land.

After the announcement Agforce policy director Drew Wagner told the Financial Review the lobby group would push for tougher regulation of QLD grazing land as well.

“We have no provision to protect the best of our grazing country. All the current legislation is doing is protecting cropping regions,” he said.

CSG companies in QLD have been quick to try to allay environmental fears over their developments.

Arrow Energy, which is looking to operate on large areas of cropping land, has established local landholder committees in the Surat Basin to co-operate over developments where possible.

And in a statement today Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association CSG director Ross Dunn said the industry welcomed the QLD government’s move to protect farmland.

“The gas industry welcomes policies such as this that recognise that the sustainable development of Queensland’s gas resources can build energy security, share economic prosperity, and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, without compromising food security,” he said.

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