NSW Premier promises to halve assessment time for mining projects

In a major shake-up of the state’s planning system, NSW Premier Mike Baird has vowed to halve the time it takes to approve major infrastructure projects.

The move comes after it was revealed the time it takes to move a project through the approvals system has risen from 500 days to more than 1000 days over the last six years.

Speaking at a NSW Minerals Council Awards dinner last night, Baird said the government needed to make a change.

"I am tonight drawing a line in the sand on this. NSW must do better and I assure you we will," Baird said.

"I commit to halving the assessment times for major projects during the next term of government."

Planning Minister Pru Goward will today detail directions to the planning commission which implements time limits and works to appoint case managers from the premier’s department who will manage planning applications.

"The Planning Minister and I believe these immediate changes alone will deliver time frame savings of about 170 days for major projects," Baird said.

Baird also hit out at illegal protestors and said new legislation would “throw the book” at activists who entered mining sites.

The premier said it was unacceptable that mining companies were responsible for the safety of people who entered their sites illegally.

"For too long protesters have entered mining sites, illegally damaged equipment and disrupted activity and escaped serious penalties.

“What is even more galling for the ­industry is that current legislation puts the responsibility for the safety of trespassers who enter mining sites illegally on to mining companies and operators

"We need legislation which provides a real deterrent to this unlawful behaviour and protects businesses from illegal protesting activities.”

NSW Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee said the changes would work to attract investment in the state.

“The strong commitment by the Premier to streamline the current planning approvals process and reduce assessment timeframes by half is a welcome sign of support for our industry,” Galilee said.

“Mining families and communities across NSW will warmly welcome the Premier’s strong demonstration
of support for their industry. We look forward to working with the Premier and his Government to help deliver these important reforms that will protect and create jobs.”

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