New NSW mining policy launches

The newly developed NSW mining policy will be implemented Wednesday.

The new policy gives more weighing to environmental and social aspects as well as economic, in order to provide even consideration in proposal approvals, according to the Newcastle Herald.

The policy was last changed two years ago, with the introduction of the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which was criticised for shifting the balance of planning assessments in favour of the mining industry over environmental and social factors.

“The proposed planning policy (SEPP) change is about restoring community confidence in the planning system and our proposal reflects the importance of balance in assessing the likely impacts of mining developments,” NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said.

“Mining plays an important role in the NSW economy, however, we must ensure that our policies reflect the importance of balance in assessing the likely impacts of mining developments,” he stated.

“A crucial pillar of our planning system is that decision makers consider environmental impacts on both the natural and built environments, and social and economic impacts in their assessment of development applications.”

Previously priority was given to economic factors, granting support to large coal operations such as the Shenhua Watermark coal mine in the Liverpool Plains.

This is the second recent major change to the state’s mining policy following the introduction of the ‘fit and proper person’ test.

The test was introduced to the NSW Mining Act in December as a result of Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations into former mining minister Ian McDonald and disgraced businessman Eddie Obeid.

With the introduction off the new mining policy additional Planning Assessment Commission hearings will now be held in regards to Centennial Coal’s Springvale coal mine expansions in Lithgow, and Rio Tinto’s Mt Thorley Warkworth planned developments in the Hunter Valley.

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