The Lock the Gate Alliance is glad to see the NSW Government moving forward with CSG exclusion zones towns and critical industry clusters, but says the devil is in the detail which hasn't yet been released.
The Alliance has also called on the Premier to deliver on his pre-election promises by allowing the gateway panel to reject projects on prime agricultural land and by extending the exclusion zone to family homes on rural properties.
“We’re yet to see the details of the Government’s announcement, but it is good to see them moving forward with the CSG exclusion zones on towns and cities. That is a positive step forward, although we are awaiting confirmation as to whether it will properly protect rural villages across NSW," said Steve Phillips, Hunter Co-ordinator with Lock The Gate Alliance.
"The actions of the Government today confirm that CSG is unsafe around families and communities - yet farming families are not protected with the same 2km buffer as urban families. This disparity is causing major anguish in rural areas and really needs to be addressed.
"It's a major oversight that towns and villages are not protected from coal mining by this measure - with open-cut mines set to encroach on places such as Gloucester and Jerrys Plains posing a severe risk to public health and communities.
"We're also very anxious to see the details of the Critical Industry Clusters that have been mapped, because we have concerns that the areas may have been reduced and loopholes introduced. It's crucial these areas are properly protected.
"Most importantly, we still have outstanding concerns that the Gateway Panel seems to still lack any power to actually 'shut the gateway' and reject a mining application.
"This means that rural communities still don't have any certainty about whether the gate will be locked, and prime agricultural land and water resources are still at risk from a permissive process that can't say 'no'.
"For example, the rural businesses of the Jerrys Plains area are now under threat from the Drayton South coal mine, which threatens very significant thoroughbred studs and vineyards. This mine will be a major test of the NSW Governments resolve to protect our most important rural assets over the next few months" he said.