The Coronavirus pandemic means the Independent Planning Commission will not be scheduling any public consultation meetings into two of the region's biggest proposed projects, for the foreseeable future.
The IPC has been asked to hold hearings for both Whitehaven Coal's Vickery coal mine extension project and Santos' Narrabri gas fields project.
However, due to the federal government's restrictions around public gatherings and social distancing, the IPC is unable to plan any public meetings at this stage.
In a statement, the IPC said anyone registered to speak at a hearing would be contacted and stakeholders were encouraged to submit written submissions.
"Written submissions are weighted the same as spoken submissions and will be carefully considered by the commission as part of its decision-making process," the statement read.
"The commission is aware of the significant community interest in these projects and is committed to ensuring interested individuals and groups can have their say on issues important to them.
"We are also committed to ensuring these hearings are fair, open and transparent."
Despite not hosting public meetings, the IPC will still consider stakeholders' submissions via a variety of different mediums.
"We will be guided by the latest advice from the Australian Department of Health and NSW Health in determining in what format our public hearings should proceed," the statement read.
"The commission will examine all options, including the use of tele and/or video-conferencing and live-streaming technologies; holding a hearing with a strict cap on participants; adopting social distancing measures; or a combination of the above.
"Again, written submissions are weighed the same as spoken submissions and submissions from interested individuals and groups will be considered carefully by the commission.
"We will provide more information in due course."
The decision has drawn criticism from Lock the Gate spokeswoman Georgina Woods, who has called for the process to be suspended until the pandemic is over.
"It is deeply disturbing planning minister Rob Stokes expects the IPC to press ahead with a public hearing for controversial projects like the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine in the context of a global pandemic," Ms Woods said.
"The planning minister cannot possibly expect the commission can adequately or fairly undertake public consultation in this context.
"The planning minister needs to put public health and basic fairness first and allow the IPC to suspend its consideration of the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine until the pandemic has passed and people are able to fully participate, as is our right."