The NSW government’s changes to regulations on mining proposals have split the mid-western area of state.
The amendments aim to improve certainty for investors and community members, by giving priority to the economic factors of mining projects and would set standards for air quality, noise and water pollution.
The proposed amendments were on public exhibition until August 12 and the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure published more than 1000 submissions by Monday.
It came as the NSW Minerals Council warned delays and deferrals of 12 months or more for projects could cost 29,000 jobs and $10.3 billion in lost investments over the next 20 years.
Many community members from the Rylstone, Kandos and Charbon region backed the state government’s amendments to improve investor confidence, the Mudgee Guardian reported.
Kandos resident Adam Nolan said mining “helps keep our town alive”, saying in his submission that the industry generates most of the employment for the area.
Rylstone’s Damian Jordan said the mining industry is under economic stress and the approvals process is compounding this.
Charbon’s Jason Fisher said mining was critical “because of other industries having closed down in the recent past”.
“If mining does disappear, I would likely be forced to move my family elsewhere and believe we would not be the only ones left with this as an only option,” Fisher said.
Eileen Leo from Mudgee is in favour of the amendments as “consideration of the significance of the resource is vital in the consideration of the approvals to ensure the long term sustainability of the state power supply and the local regions prosperity.”
Rylstone’s Daren Baguley opposes the state government’s decision to “move the goalposts following Bulga’s victory in the Land and Environment Court”.
“Governments are supposed to govern for the people, not special interests such as the coal industry,” he said.
“As such, I strongly object to aspects of this amendment, as I believe that it disproportionately favours coal mine development, which will come at the cost of local communities, their health, water and the environment.”
“There is no justification for the “significance of the resource” to be elevated above other matters such as clean air and water and other industries like agriculture in this way.”
Rio Tinto’s Warkworth mine expansion’s ministerial approval was cancelled for social and environmental reasons.
Coal & Allied managing director Darren Yeates attacked the NSW planning system following the verdict.