The Mid-Western Region is divided over an amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy that would see mineral resources given greater consideration in mining development applications.
A contingent from the Rylstone, Kandos and Charbon district among others has voiced their support for the state government’s push to restore investor confidence in the mining industry. There are also several residents from around the region who are in opposition to the reforms.
By Monday the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure had progressively published more than 1000 submissions on the amendment that finished its public exhibition period on August 12.
Kandos resident Adam Nolan said in his submission that mining was important to the local area, creates the majority of the employment for the district and “helps keep our town alive”.
Charbon’s Jason Fisher said mining within the area was vital “because of other industries (cement works) having closed down in the recent past”.
“If mining does disappear, I would likely be forced to move my family elsewhere and believe we would not be the only ones left with this as an only option,” Mr Fisher said.
Also supporting the policy change was Rylstone’s Damian Jordan.
“The mining industry is facing significant economic pressure, which is being compounded by a lack of certainty in the approvals process, which is costing jobs,” he said.
Like several residents from the region, Mudgee’s Martin Charlton submitted a supportive pro-forma document.
“Like the majority of people in NSW I support a strong mining industry and the jobs and economic opportunities it provides throughout regional NSW,” he said.
“I support any changes to the planning framework that will restore some confidence in the mining sector.”
Mudgee’s Eileen Leo said she supported changes to the policy because “consideration of the significance of the resource is vital in the consideration of the approvals to ensure the long term sustainability of the state power supply and the local regions prosperity.”
Also from Mudgee, Samantha Leo said “project approvals need to be assessed giving due consideration to all issues including long term economic prosperity of surrounding small townships.”
“My long term employment in my current position is dependant upon approvals being processed in a timely manner,” she said.
However there were many residents who provided a contrasting view on the state government’s proposed policy amendment.
Lue’s Maureen O’Connor said the survival of longstanding small communities like hers was barely considered in the proposal.
“The Kingsgate Consolidated proposal to mine lead less than two kilometres from our school and village has been put on hold until this legislation is passed, making it easier for the project to gain approval in spite of the clear threat to the health and lifestyle of the community and the wider area,” she said.
“Community consultation for this project has been farcical. The department of planning has had clear evidence of this and is apparently ignoring the facts. I strongly object to these amendments.”
Running Stream’s Fiona Sim believes the amended policy is “fatally flawed”.
“It privileges the ‘significance of mining resources’ over every other consideration. This is not only morally reprehensible, it is criminal,” she said.
”Mining operations already jeopardise too much of Australia’s very small amount of precious agricultural land, our future food and water security, the health and wellbeing of communities directly affected by mining, and the environment.”
Rylstone’s Daren Baguley said he was appalled by the state’s government’s decision to “move the goalposts following Bulga’s victory in the Land and Environment Court.”
“Governments are supposed to govern for the people, not special interests such as the coal industry. As such, I strongly object to aspects of this amendment, as I believe that it disproportionately favours coal mine development, which will come at the cost of local communities, their health, water and the environment,” Me Baguley said.
“There is no justification for the “significance of the resource” to be elevated above other matters such as clean air and water and other industries like agriculture in this way.”
To see all submissions, visit http://bit.ly/13UGZ77