THE NSW government has passed several bills that will amend the Mining Act, including changes to the processes for allocating coal exploration titles and industrial noise.
The wide-ranging bills also cover exploration land access procedures, exploration activity approvals, enforcement provisions and powers relating to title decisions and conditions.
Lock the Gate Alliance said the state government was sowing “seeds of ongoing discord” in rural communities by failing to consult and develop mining and planning reform in line with community expectations.
The organisation’s NSW co-ordinator, Georgina Woods, said the five bills weakened protections for improved land.
“Under the guise of giving landholders greater rights and protections in negotiating land access with coal and gas companies, the NSW government has passed changes to the Mining Act that could make it more difficult for landholders to protect improvements they’ve made from mining impacts,” Ms Woods said.
“This government came to power promising to protect farmland from coal mining – they haven’t done that, and we’ve got the best farmland in the country being targeted for open-cut mining.
“Not only have they utterly failed to do anything to protect farmland from mining, they’re now trying to remove the one measure in law that protects farm improvements from mining.”
Ms Woods said if Industry, Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts and Planning Minister Rob Stokes couldn’t co-operate to “reform mining and give some protection and certainty to rural industries and people that are affected by coal and gas”, then NSW Premier Mike Baird needed to step in.
“This dithering has gone on long enough,” Ms Woods said.
NSW Mining said it was involved in a “limited consultation period” and as a result had “secured several positive changes”.