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Joint letter to the NSW Premier

To the Hon. Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales  

We have a vision for better and fairer rules to protect New South Wales from the impacts of coal mining.

We are disappointed that the promised strategic approach to stop coal mining from permanently damaging farmland, water resources, bushland and the social fabric of rural communities has not delivered.

The recent approval of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains exemplifies the New South Wales Government’s failure. If significant agricultural land and productive aquifers had been made off-limits to mining in 2012 as promised, that mine would never have been approved.

The review of the State Environmental Planning Policy for Mining is the key opportunity to address this failure.

We recognise and commend the important step the Government has taken in proposing to repeal the “resource significance” clause of the State Environmental Planning Policy for Mining, but appeal to the State Government to act quickly to implement further needed reforms.

We ask that you act urgently to:

  1. Establish in law the values and places that are so significant for the economy, community and environment of New South Wales they must be off-limits to mining. These include important and productive farmland, viticultural, equine and other Critical Industry Clusters, productive aquifers, the Special Areas of Sydney’s drinking water catchment and endangered natural environments.
  2. Implement fair and effective regulation of mining in other areas to ensure that individual and cumulative impacts on water resources, public health, rural industries, the environment and the social fabric are minimised and that all impacted people receive just treatment under the law. 
  3. Restore checks and balances and public access to decision making. This means ensuring that communities have full merits appeal rights for mining projects now being considered.
  4. Reform of the planning system to provide concurrence powers for health, water and environment agencies, to remove non-discretionary standards that limit environmental protections, and to ensure consideration of the full costs and benefits of mining projects.

With our diverse interests and background, our organisations and networks are united in calling for these reforms and for fair treatment of the public, the environment and the other rural industries that are affected by mining. 

Lock the Gate Alliance
William Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle
The Hon John Nader RFD QC
Bishop George Browning
SOS Liverpool Plains
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change
Denman Aberdeen Muswellbrook Scone Healthy Environment Group
Great Artesian Basin Protection Group
Hunter Community Environment Centre
Hunter Valley Protection Alliance
Maules Creek Community Council
Lithgow Environment Group

Hunter Valley Wine Tourism Association
Rev Dr Andrew Williams, Gen. Secretary, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW & the ACT
Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining
The Sisters of St Joseph
Bulga-Milbrodale Progress Association
Southern Highlands Coal Action Group
Hunter Environment Lobby
Mudgee District Environment Group
Eco-Mission NSW
Hunter and Central Rivers Alliance
Land Water Future
Doctors for the Environment

Nature Conservation Council
Rev Myung Hwa Park, Moderator, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW & the ACT
Singleton Shire Healthy Environment Group
Catholic Earthcare
Bylong Valley Protection Alliance
Columban Mission Institute
Hunter Communities Network
Upper Mooki Landcare
Rivers SOS
Protect Sydney’s Water
Social Justice Around the Bay
Our Land Our Water Our Future, Central Coast
Australian Coal Alliance