FEDERAL politicians are not convinced the NSW government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy will provide certainty for the state’s farmers or miners.
One local MP says it could even be at odds with Commonwealth standards already agreed upon.
Member for New England Tony Windsor says the policy claims to protect prime agricultural land from mining, but it might not be strong enough to meet the federal government’s standards that NSW signed up for under a National Partnership Agreement in February.
“If their policy doesn’t comply with the standards of the agreement they signed up for six months ago, the NSW government risks further damaging the public’s trust in their ability to strike a balance between the interests of farming and mining,” he said.
Mr Windsor said he was concerned about the risk of further uncertainty for those sectors if the state government did not refer all new coal seam gas and large coal mining developments to the $200 million Commonwealth-funded Independent Expert Scientific Committee for assessment first.
The committee was formed as part of an agreement struck between the Labor government and Mr Windsor in his support of the mining tax and the Namoi Catchment Management Authority has already undertaken some research for it.
He said the NSW government agreed to refer all large mining developments to the committee, formed in July, if there was a chance they could impact on water resources.
“The state’s mining regulators would then be required to take the advice of the committee into account when deciding whether to approve new developments,” Mr Windsor said.
Mr Windsor said it was still unclear whether the state-based “gateway process” would be up to scratch in deciding which developments went ahead on areas mapped out as prime agricultural land.