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North West landholders to give evidence at Senate Hearing in Tamworth today

North West farmers threatened by coal and coal seam gas mining projects will give evidence today at a public enquiry into landholders’ rights to refuse to have mining companies on their properties.

Witnesses to give evidence at the Senate Hearing include Upper Mooki Landcare spokespeople, Nicky Chirlian and Heather Ranclaud, and Narrabri farmer, Sarah Ciesiolka.

Lock the Gate’s National Coordinator, Phil Laird, who will also give evidence to the committee via the phone, said the group supported landholders having the power to veto coal and gas mining on their land.

He said local farmers felt that their local Federal MPs had failed to protect agricultural production from the impacts of coal and gas mining.

“Currently no states, including NSW, give landholders the legal power to stop mining companies from undertaking large scale coal and unconventional gas mining on their land,” he said.

“We think it should be the responsibility of all governments to give landholders and communities a fair go, and we thank the Senator Larissa Waters for bringing this Bill to the table.” 

The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications is holding the enquiry into Senator Waters’ Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Coal and Gas) Bill 2015.

“At present the states rely on royalty income from mining and, at the same time, have the responsibility of protecting the environment and communities impacting by these proposals so there’s an obvious conflict of interest,” Mr Laird said.

“That's why we have been advocating for stronger Federal laws to prevent the degradation of our land and water by mining interests.

"However, the Federal Government is moving in the opposite direction, and the Bill it introduced last week to remove the rights of most landholders and communities to challenge mining projects in the courts is a disaster for rural people" he said.

Nicky Chirlian said communities must have a say in the future of their local environments.

“We will all be severely impacted in the long run by proposed coal mines in our foodbowl, the Liverpool Plains” she said. “We just can't help but feel that the Federal Government is moving to take away the legal rights of landholders and communities because they don't want a Federal challenge to the Shenhua coal mine” she said.

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