Essential information is missing from the draft regional land use plans released on Tuesday by the
NSW government, leaving farmland and water at risk, according to the Nature Conservation
Council of NSW.
“The central feature of the Government’s new regional land use plans, the ‘gateway’ process,
requires an independent committee to conduct a cost‐benefit analysis of mining and gas proposals
on strategic agricultural land, but the methodology for conducting that analysis has not yet been
prepared”, Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said today.
“It’s extraordinary that government has chosen to release the plans without first finalising the
cost‐benefit methodology. This is an essential element of the gateway process, which will
ultimately determine which land and water resources will be protected from destructive mining
and gas development.
“The ‘gateway’ process as currently proposed will perpetuate uncertainty and land use conflict, by
allowing the independent committee to decide that the short‐term economic benefits of a mining
or gas proposal outweigh the long‐term costs to landholders and the community.
“Ultimately, government must recognise that our best farmland, water resources and natural
areas are irreplaceable and must be protected for the benefit of current and future generations.
“Government must urgently finalise and release the proposed cost‐benefit methodology, so that
landholders know where they stand.
“In the absence of this information, it is reasonable for the community to be deeply concerned
about a cost‐benefit methodology that favours the mining industry, trumping the protection
measures supposedly offered by the gateway process,” said Mr Clarke.
Extracts from the draft Upper Hunter regional land use plan
“In determining whether or not to issue a gateway certificate, the Mining and Coal Seam Gas
Gateway Panel would need to consider the following:
Cost Benefit Consideration
4. Whether the proposal would be in the public interest through a cost benefit analysis
undertaken in accordance with the Government’s published cost benefit methodology.”
To support this task, the NSW Government is developing a methodology to undertake a cost
benefit analysis of alternative land uses in the Upper Hunter region that could be used to better
inform decision making.
[…] At a project level, the cost benefit analysis is proposed to be incorporated into the gateway
criteria to be considered by the Mining and Coal Seam Gas Gateway Panel. Specifically, the cost
benefit methodology will be published for use by applicants as a key input to their gateway
certificate application and subsequently assessed by the panel as part of its consideration of the
whether or not the proposal is in the public interest.
Front page photo: Steven de Polo