NSW Government to rig system for the mining industry

Lock the Gate Media Release 29th July 2013
Amendments to a state environmental planning policy released for comment for just two weeks present a radical departure from balanced decision-making in consideration of coal mining applications, says the Lock the Gate Alliance.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Steve Phillips said, “These changes are a slap in the face for communities who value a balanced and considered approach to coal mining approvals, and recognise that sometimes the short-term profits that mining brings don’t stack up against the loss of their water, their community, their local bushland.”
Amendments to the Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries State Environmental Planning Policy 2007 have been released for public exhibition today for just two weeks .

The changes include:

  • Making “promote the development of significant mineral resources” a purpose of the policy.
  • Requiring consent authorities to make “significance of the resource” the “principle matter for consideration” when determining a mining application. Impacts on water, biodiversity, and compatibility with surrounding land use must be downplayed when determining mining applications.
  • Adding “non-discretionary development standards for mining.” These would prevent consent authorities from rejection mining proposals based on a discretionary interpretation of cumulative air quality, noise and vibration impacts and aquifer interference.

Previously, the policy required consent authorities to evaluate and compare the relative public benefits of proposed coal mines against other land uses in the vicinity of the proposed mine. It required them to consider and create conditions to avoid or mitigate impacts of mining developments on water resources and biodiversity.

According to Lock the Gate, the changes effectively mean that a system already weighted in favour of coal companies by virtue of their political influence, would make that imbalance a formal part of the consent process.

“The radical changes being proposed by NSW Government make all other considerations subordinate to the inexorable might of the mining industry. It is difficult not to see this as a slap in the face for small communities like Bulga and Camberwell, who have been forced to take mining projects to court as they grapple against the bullying might of the coal industry, with the complicity of our state government.

“All other land uses whether it be farming, quiet enjoyment or amenity must be relegated to second class considerations to the money-making potential of the proposed mine. We will be making strenuous objections to this policy, and encouraging all of our members to do the same.