Government squibs another opportunity to end the conflict over mining

MEDIA RELEASE – 16 October 2015

Government squibs another opportunity to end the conflict over mining

The Greens NSW Mining Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said the NSW Government’s new mining bills fail to resolve the conflicts over land use and coal and coal seam gas, and follow the pattern of previous policies such as the Strategic Regional Land Use Gateway and the Aquifer Interference policy, that promise much, but consistently fall short and allow coal and coal seam gas to progress virtually unhindered.

“These new mining laws fail to address fundamental concerns such as protecting certain areas from mining and coal seam gas extraction, and giving landholders the right to say no.   The structural injustices and the systemic failings of the laws remain and so the conflict will continue,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Mining companies will still be able to force their way onto people’s land through compulsory arbitration, and concerns remain about whether mining companies will act in good faith; whether quality and unbiased arbitrators will be appointed; what ‘reasonable’ cost will be covered for landholders dragged through this process; and the subjectivity of the definition of improvements to property and whether they can be reasonably relocated or substituted.

“The government has failed to rule out coal or coal seam gas mining in certain areas of the state, despite widespread concern that mining will wreck key food growing areas such as the Liverpool Plains, key water catchments, or important environments such as the Northern Rivers of NSW.

“The era of fossil fuels should be coming to a close.  While amending the Acts to incorporate some anti-corruption measures recommended by ICAC, such as competitive auctions, is important, the more fundamental question is whether any new coal or gas licences should be issued at all, as it is simply incompatible with dealing with climate change.

“While it is a step in the right direction to move enforcement out of Industry and Investment and into the Environment ministry, the record of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is absolutely woeful and the public will be watching closely to see if the EPA take on these big corporations or simply drum out the excuses.”

“The Greens will be examining the legislation, talking with communities around NSW and considering amendments to improve these bills.”

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