Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed today’s restoration of evaluating community and environmental impacts of projects in mining assessments in NSW’s planning laws, effective 2 September.
The change has the potential to restore greater balance to the planning system and allow farmers and landholders a voice in the assessment process, said spokesperson Georgina Woods.
"The changes to the mining planning laws announced today are a tribute to communities battling destructive coal mining projects around NSW," Ms Woods said.
"Economic considerations should never have been prioritised over keeping precious water resources safe and other social and environmental impacts of mining.
"It was one of the most heinous betrayals of Hunter Valley communities that the O’Farrell government worked hand in glove with Rio Tinto and amended planning policy to favour big miners, distorting a system that was in many ways already stacked in the interests of mining.
“With this change in planning policy, all eyes are on the Planning and Assessment Commission’s decision about the expansion of the Warkworth mine. It was widely believed that this clause was invested to help Rio Tinto squash community opposition to that project. We are grateful to the Planning Minister Rob Stokes for listening to the community and making this change before a final decision on the Warkworth coal mine expansion.
"Of course there is a lot more work to do to restore the balance in the NSW planning system. A full review of the mining planning policy is due by the end of the month. We simply must get protections in place for farmland, water and communities, and get more robust processes in place.