The regional land use plans released today send a clear message to communities across New South Wales that their needs for clean water and a healthy environment come a distant second to the demands of a rampant mining industry, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said.
“The land use plans released today fail to deliver on the government’s promise to protect critical environmental assets,” said Pepe Clarke, NCC Chief Executive Officer.
“Conservationists will be furious to see that Government has chosen to remove the basic protection for rivers and wildlife habitat that were proposed in the draft plans.
“This is an extraordinary backward step, which will leave iconic natural areas exposed to the destructive impacts of unprecedented mining and gas expansion,” he said.
Iconic natural areas threatened by mining and gas development in the Upper Hunter and New England-North West include:
- Pilliga Forest– NSW’s biggest coal seam proposal threatens a biodiversity hotspot.
- Warkworth Sands Woodland – biodiversity offsets give green light to habitat destruction.
- Leard State Forest– misleading mine expansion maps.
“Today’s announcement breaks a solemn promise by the Premier to ban mining from drinking water catchments,” Mr Clarke said.
On 28 February 2009, Barry O’Farrell provided an unequivocal guarantee that, if elected, his government would deliver protection for water catchment areas:
“The next Liberal-National government … will ensure that mining can’t occur in any water catchment area, and will ensure that mining leases and mining exploration permits reflect that common sense. No ifs, no buts, a guarantee.
“Despite this promise, the new land use laws announced today provide no additional protection for drinking water catchments. This is a central failing of the land use plan and must be rectified to ensure drinking water catchments are protected from physical damage and mining pollution,” Mr Clarke said.
The draft land use plans do not provide adequate protection for residential areas, or clearly identify mechanisms for managing cumulative air quality impacts.
“We all have a right to clean air and clean water. For too long, the profits of the mining industry have taken priority over the health of local communities affected by mining development,” Mr Clarke said.
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