Lock the Gate Alliance says the NSW Government must stop its damaging, ham-fisted flip-flopping and instead should act decisively to protect Hunter Valley horse and wine country and all productive farmland from coal mining.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes has released a statement this morning apparently contradicting media reports that the Government is exploring options to resolve conflict over the coal mining in the Hunter Valley.
Lock the Gate coordinator, Georgina Woods, said:
"We urge the Government to put in place systematic and permanent protections for existing agricultural and tourism industries and sensitive areas across the Hunter.
"The Drayton South mine is in the hands of the Planning and Assessment Commission, and we will wait to see the result of that process. But it is unforgiveable for the NSW Government to have put local communities through five long years of hell because the Premier is too indecisive to fulfill a long-standing promise to protect farmland from coal mining.
"Five years ago the Government promised that important farmland and drinking water catchments would be off limits to mining, but in the years since they have left rural communities to suffer.
"They’ve been left to fight for their livelihoods and industries against multi-national mining companies, with no support from the government.
"If the NSW Government is serious about resolving mining conflict, then it needs to put in place upfront protections for priority areas instead of forcing communities to fight in protracted conflicts, mine by mine.
"The government very nearly lost the seat of Upper Hunter in the last state election, and its failure to deliver long-standing promises to protect farmland, villages and water resources from coal mining is going to be one of the biggest issues next time around,” she said.