New South Wales and national environment groups have called for an independent public review into uranium mining in the state, saying Premier Barry O’Farrell has no mandate to change a long-standing and popular policy banning uranium projects.
As legislation to facilitate uranium exploration is debated in state Parliament today, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Beyond Nuclear Initiative criticised the lifting of the ban on uranium exploration and urged the state government to set up a public inquiry into the uranium industry.
“Premier O’Farrell has said this is not about mining, but about exploration and gathering evidence, so we trust he will support a full, robust and independent inquiry to examine the adequacy of NSW’s regulatory regimes, the experience of uranium mining in other jurisdictions and the views of relevant stakeholders,” said Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“For 26 years NSW has maintained a socially and environmentally responsible policy prohibiting uranium exploration and mining,” said Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative.
“The nuclear industry poses health risks to workers and the community and long-term hazards to the environment,” she said.
“Premier O’Farrell did not take this issue to the community at the state election, so he has no mandate for an initiative that would have such a long-term impact on NSW’s society and environment,” said Pepe Clarke from the Nature Conservation Council.
“Since Premier O’Farrell announced his intention to open up uranium exploration in this state, thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the government to maintain the uranium ban.
“We urge the government, opposition and crossbench MPs to support a full, robust and independent inquiry into the ramifications of opening up NSW to uranium exploration and mining,” Mr Clarke said.