The Lock the Gate Alliance has slammed the NSW Minister for Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher for pressing ahead with moves to make economic interests the primary consideration for consent authorities dealing with coal mine applications, warning that it will exacerbate conflict in regional communities.
The Minister has announced this morning his intention to gazette changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for mining that would see the ‘economic significance” of a coal resource trump water, biodiversity and community health in planning decisions.
The 'Resource Significance' SEPP Amendment was placed on public exhibition in July, and met with widespread opposition, with many hundreds of public submissions opposing it.
Lock the Gate Alliance Coordinator Steve Phillips said, “The Minister is proposing an utter surrender by the Government of this state to coal mining interests, and the abandonment of any semblance of balance in decision-making.
"This is a complete reversal of the promises which the NSW Government made prior to the 2011 election - they promised to restore balance to protect water, farmland and communities - but instead this measure completely biases the system even further in favour of coal companies.
“The Minister may think that mining company profits are more important than anything else, but that’s not what we believe. We believe that our kids should have clean air to breathe, that farmers should have land to farm, and that water is more precious than coal.
"And most importantly, we believe that existing industries such as the world class Hunter wine and thoroughbred-horse breeding industries should not be sacrificed. This policy makes coal resources the primary consideration of a decision-maker, and severely degrades consideration of the agricultural resources on which we all depend.
"This new policy would ensure that the things we value most in this state, our water, our clean air, our beautiful bushland and our sustainable industries, are available to be trampled for coal mining, with no recourse for the community.
“If the Minister thinks these laws will stop people fighting for what they love, he is sorely mistaken,” he said.