'FARCICAL" is how the NSW Farmers Association has labelled the NSW Government's attempts to protect agricultural land from the mining and coal seam gas industries.
The government yesterday released what it described as stringent new laws to protect agricultural land had been placed on exhibition.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services Andrew Stoner said the policy included a new independent, upfront and scientific assessment of these projects through a gateway process, before a development application could be lodged.
There appears to be nothing this government won't do to break its election commitments on mining and coal seam gas.
But NSW Farmers' CEO Matt Brand said the drafts confirmed there was no gate in the gateway process because the government's expert panel could not prevent any damaging projects from proceeding.
Mr Stoner said applications were being invited for membership on the revolving three-member independent gateway panel, whose members would need to have expertise in the fields of agricultural science, hydrogeology, mining or petroleum development.
"A pool of independent experts will be established from which the panel can be drawn," the deputy premier said.
"The SEPP will include detailed maps of land identified as 'strategic agricultural land' and will outline the types of development that will be subject to the gateway process."
But Mr Brand said the draft provided further evidence the government was snubbing the community on this land use issue.
"First it refuses to identify any agricultural land which cannot be mined - then it gives us a gateway without a gate," he said.
"Worse still, the government is laying out a red carpet to mining and CSG companies with its cost-benefit tool. Farmers and the public have a right to be outraged.
"There appears to be nothing this government won't do to break its election commitments on mining and coal seam gas.
"The O'Farrell Government promised to protect agricultural land and water, but has shied away from delivering a framework that will deliver any certainty for farmers or future generations."
Mr Brand said the new cost-benefit tool released this week failed to take into consideration the long-term value of food and fibre production in NSW.
NSW Farmers has called for the government to reconsider its decision to "capitulate to the mining and gas industry on land use planning" and on consumers who want a sustainable future for food and fibre production in NSW to have their say through the Department of Planning's website and by contacting their local member of parliament.
The draft amendment to the Mining SEPP will be on exhibition for public feedback until December 14, 2012.
A draft cost-benefit analysis methodology for mining and CSG proposals, prepared by NSW Treasury, is also being exhibited. The exhibition documents can be found here.