FARMERS in NSW yesterday declared they would step up their battle to protect land and water in the ongoing land use battle.
A motion to the executive council of the NSW Farmers Association, put forward by its conservation and resource management committee to take robust action to force the NSW government to deliver on the original intent of its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, was unanimously supported.
Committee chairman Rod Young said they were deeply concerned by the way the government had failed farming communities on the issue of mining and coal seam gas.
“Our real fear is if the O’Farrell government can walk over NSW regional and rural communities on issues like land use conflict, what is it capable of on other important issues we are facing like native vegetation, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the reform to agricultural services?” Mr Young said.
NSW Farmers was bitterly disappointed with the NSW government when it caved in to the powerful mining and energy lobby with the announcement of its much anticipated land and water protections plan in September.
Mr Young said farmers wanted their land and water protected as promised by the Coalition government prior to its election.
“We want a binding aquifer interference regulation, a gateway which can actually stop potentially damaging projects from being approved, a land and water commissioner who actually has some power to protect land and water and a review of land access laws to give landholders the right to say no,” he said.
Some 58 per cent of the community surveyed by Newspoll in June 2012 thought the NSW government was putting too much emphasis on satisfying the interests of extractive industries, compared with about 1 per cent who said too much emphasis was placed on farmers.
About 50 per cent thought more than half of the state’s food-producing land should be reserved for agriculture while one in four believed more than 90 per cent should be set aside solely for agriculture.
Agriculture contributed more than $14.5 billion or 3.4 per cent to the NSW economy in the year ended June 2011.