Don’t let Big Mining ride roughshod over communities!
State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment (Resource Significance) 2013
Announced 29 July 2013
You may have heard the shocking news of the Government’s plans to amend state planning laws to allow Big Mining to ride roughshod over communities.
Intended changes to the Mining SEPP forces decision makers to “promote the development of significant mineral resources”, meaning they will have limited power to reject coal and other mineral developments.
Rather than promoting a ‘triple bottom line’ assessment process that considers the social, environmental and economic impacts of a project, this SEPP makes economic considerations trump all others. This means environmentally and socially destructive mining projects will more likely be approved based solely on the supposed economic benefits a project brings.
It is completely outrageous that this Government is bending over backwards to allow big miners to tear up our precious water and agricultural land all for the sake of a quick dollar for mostly foreign owned mining companies. For the government to privilege short term economics over the life support systems of clean water and productive agricultural land is short sighted and dangerous. When 86% of people support the right of landholders to refuse access to mining and gas companies, the Government should be backing the community, not Big Mining!
What you can do
Make a submission demanding that the Government extend the time to comment (currently open for public comment until 5 pm 12 August)
Contact key Ministers and demand that they withdraw the SEPP:
Premier, Barry O’Farrell firstname.lastname@example.org (02) 9228 5239
Chris Hartcher, Energy & Resources Minister email@example.com (02) 9228 5289
Brad Hazzard, Planning & Infrastructure Minister firstname.lastname@example.org (02) 9228 5258
Make a submission before 5 pm 12 August
Attend the protest in Sydney on 14 August to oppose the Government and industry riding roughshod over communities
What the SEPP amendments do
Amends Mining SEPP provisions relating to the assessment process for major coal and minerals mining projects. (Most major mining projects will be captured by the SEPP and assessed by the Planning Assessment Commission).
Main aim of SEPP amendment is to “promote the development of significant mineral resources” in the state.
Applies to coal, minerals and precious metals (such as gold, silver, antimony etc) – not coal seam gas.
Once SEPP is introduced, it will apply to all proposals not yet determined.
Key concerns & criticisms
SEPP makes the economic significance of the resource the principal consideration in assessing a DA. Elevates economic considerations over others, which means social and environmental impacts are sidelined:
“where mineral resources are demonstrated to be significant to the State, they are given greater consideration in the assessment of DAs”
“ensuring that the balancing of other considerations under the SEPP is done in a manner which is proportionate to the relative significance of the resource”
Chris Hartcher says “resources sector the backbone of the NSW economy”, but fails to acknowledge the importance and long-term benefits of the agricultural sector which is worth $12 billion to the NSW economy and directly employs twice the number of people as mining – 65,000.
There is an inherent conflict of interest and bias for Department of Trade and Investment to be giving advice on the economic benefits of the resource, as they have a vested interest in exploiting the resource base.
Treats environmental standards as ‘one size fits all’ through the introduction of minimum “acceptable standards” to streamline the assessment process. Even where a project does not meet these standards, it gets a second go through the normal assessment process.
Only requires the decision maker to consider the advice from OEH concerning biodiversity impacts etc. Treats the approval as a fait complit with no power to veto or impose conditions.
Suggestions for making a submission
These SEPP amendments pave the way for increased minerals exploitation based on economic considerations trumping any concerns relating to environmental or social impacts.
It is completely outrageous that this Government is bending over backwards to allow big miners to tear up our precious water and agricultural land all for the sake of a quick dollar for mostly foreign owned mining companies. For the government to privilege short term economics over the life support systems of clean water and productive agricultural land risks our existing industries, ecosystems and communities’ long term health.
Rather than increasing environmental protections, this SEPP makes it easier for big miners to exploit the State’s mineral resources. This is completely outrageous considering that the overwhelming majority of people want more say in mining developments, not less.
With this SEPP we will see a lessening of environmental standards, where supposed economic benefits will override any concerns for the social and environmental impacts of mining projects.
This SEPP fundamentally fails to give landholders the right to say no, which 86% of people want.
This is yet another ad hoc announcement from the government in an attempt to convince the community that the mining sector is sufficiently regulated, but instead, makes it easier for Big Mining to ride roughshod over communities.
What are others saying?
Department of Planning media release: http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/DesktopModules/MediaCentre/getdocument.aspx?mid=1259