Upper Hunter mine plan should be first: Muswellbrook Mayor

Residents in the Upper Hunter are divided over the promises by Liberal and National parties to have at least one regional strategic plan for coal mining completed in the next 12 months.

The Mayor of Muswellbrook, Martin Rush says he is keen to begin the Upper Hunter regional strategic plan, which will deal with the conflict between land users close to areas used for coal and gas mining.

The plan will deal especially with the concerns of Hunter Valley farmers, vignerons and thoroughbred breeders, which have been brought to the attention of the public previously.

In January, a task force was established to deal with remediation of mining in the Hunter.

NSW Minerals Council Nikki Williams said in February the strategic plan in the Hunter was long overdue,
and in January protestors at both the Newcastle and Muswellbrook coal mines faced court,after they locked themselves to a conveyor belt.

Rush told the ABC he wants issues in the Upper hunter addressed first.

"They have 12 months to get underway with land use planning here in the Upper Hunter, we have indicated that we want to have our land use planning completed in that 12 months," he said.

"They have committed to completing one of those plans in that time frame,

"There is new legislation to be brought in in the next three weeks in respect of transitionary arrangements and I want to have a good hard look at that when the Bills are drafted and presented to the Parliament."

The new Environment Minister and Maitland MP, Robyn Parker will be heavily involved in the issue, and the Lock the Gate Alliance, which represents groups against coal and coal seam gas exploration and mining want the minister to hear their concerns.

Spokesman for the Alliance, John Thomson said the state government make environmental regulations a priority.

"With the coal mining issue we have a lack of regulation, lack of enforcement, we need a pro-active compliance office that can get in and police these issues before they are brought to the attention of the environment ministry by the public," Thomson said.

"On the coal seam gas industry, we need the inclusion of that industry under the Department of Environment’s oversight."

Image: Rising Tide Australia

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