Tuesday 23 July 2013

RSWUA submission to the White Paper

The Running Stream Water Users Association is a community action group established in 1991 to protect the water resource of the Ilford/Running Stream area at the gateway to Central New South Wales. Our membership base comprises over 100 individuals who are all deeply concerned about the proposed Planning White Paper.

Most alarmingly, this document has removed any mention of Ecologically Sustainable Development and in doing so has put our prime agricultural lands at risk.
Furthermore, our democratic right to have a say in development in our area has been limited to community consultation in the up front strategic planning stage reviewed every four years. We believe it is our right to have an input in every stage of development and that we should have avenues to appeal against a decision that effects the long term viability of our community such as coal mining. As it stands, the proposed reforms give the Minister too much power to favour developer interests over community needs. We ask you to remove sections 9.6 (3) and 10.12 2 (c) and give the community full appeal rights against mining and other state significant developments.
The basis for any good planning reforms in the 21st century should be environmental sustainability and yet the White Paper champions economic growth over sustainability. Climate change, the biggest problem facing the world today, is not even mentioned in the document. This gross oversight should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
We ask you to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments include a Health Impact Assessment and ensure that there are stringent limits on cumulative air, noise, water and carbon emissions, all monitored in a transparent and compliant manner.
We also ask that Local Councils be given the right to veto mining operations in their areas. Local Councils are the tier of government closest to the people and must be empowered to act in the best the interest of their constituents, not the State and not developers.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment and we trust that you will seriously take on board our comments.

Yours sincerely,

Nell Schofield

Doctor's for the Environment

Doctor's for the Environment have put out a report about our government's failure to protect our health, especially by cutting through "green tape" to fast track developments such as coal mines. Emissions from some coal projects are not properly eausred and are likely to be contributing to ill health.

Read the report here:


Thursday 18 July 2013

Bulga: the town that wouldn't disappear from coal

This is the story of  Bulga, a little town in the Hunter Valley, whose residents wanted to stop a coal mine coming any closer. They used the concept of 'solistalgia' - home sickness while still at home - as a defence and won their case. But big carbon is hitting back, with the NSW Government on side.

An appeal hearing starts on July 30. We wish the good folk of Bulga all the very best in the battle.

Monday 1 July 2013

NEWS FLASH: White Paper submission still being accepted.

NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure is investigating complaints from people not being able to lodge online submissions on the new Planning White Paper by last week’s deadline of June 28. As a result, submissions are still being accepted so please have your say at plan_comment@planning.nsw.gov.au  You can read the white paper at www.planning .nsw.gov.au/a-new-planning-system-for-nsw.For more information visit the Better Planning Network or www.keepitlocal.net.au

Here is what Locak the Gate have to say on the White Paper:

NSW Planning Changes - A Body Blow to Communities Fighting Coal and Gas Mining
The NSW Government has developed a whole new planning system for NSW, which replaces the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.  After the long shadow cast by the coal-mining corruption scandals in the Hunter Valley, the Government had promised that the new system would hand power back to communities and improve accountability and transparency.
But nothing could be further from the truth - the new planning system is all about making things even easier for mining companies to get their developments approved.  Many safeguards will be lost and none of the gaping holes in the current system will be fixed.
If passed as is, the new planning laws will be a body blow to every community around NSW who is fighting coal and gas developments.
Submissions close on the proposed changes this Friday, 28th June.  Please take two minutes to put in a submission. 
To make a submission, simply go to the NSW Planning website, here, and copy and paste the points we have provided below into the submissions box.  Don't forget to add your name and address.  Feel free to add you own words and thoughts on the proposals.
You can also view the full text of the proposed laws and the white paper here, and you can read expert opinion on the proposal by the Environmental Defenders Office here.
Points for Submissions
The worst failings of the new planning system are:
  1. The principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) have been removed, which means approving developments takes precedence over social and environmental concerns. 
  2. The community has limited rights to appeal against a decision on coal and gas development, and no rights at all when there has been a public hearing by the Planning Assessment Commission.
  3. The Community Participation Charter in the Bill is not mandatory and the Minister has enormous discretion to amend or repeal plans or to weaken or remove community consultation.
  4. The Bill leaves local Councils with no power over mining developments and side-lines all other Government agencies to instead centralise power with the Department of Planning.
  5. The Bill does nothing to improve Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to address cumulative impacts or to require baseline monitoring or Health Impact Assessments.
  6. The Strategic Planning Principles ignore the protection of sensitive natural areas and the health of communities and NSW Planning Policies will not have to be approved by Parliament.
  7. The Bill does nothing to address the inherent conflict of interest in assessment processes which sees mining companies choosing and paying consultants to assess the impacts of their projects.
The proposed Planning Bill 2013 should be amended to:
  1. Amend clause 1.3 to make ecologically sustainable development (ESD as defined in the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997) the overarching object of the planning laws.  
  2. Require that all decisions, powers, functions and subordinate instruments must be exercised consistently with the principles of ESD.
  3. Give the community full appeal rights against mining and other state significant developments by removing s 9.6 (3) and s10.12 2 (c).
  4. Make the Community Participation Charter mandatory, reduce ministerial discretion and include clear legal requirements for consultation, notification and reasons for decision.
  5. Give local Councils the right to veto mining and gas operations.
  6. Give NSW Health, the NSW Office of Water and the Environment Protection Authority a full concurrence role in approving coal and gas mining developments.
  7. Require that Environmental Impact Assessments:
  • Include a rigorous and independent Health Impact Assessment.
  • Are preceded by a bioregional assessment of natural and social resources prior to development, that fully assesses cumulative impacts.
  • Set best practice standards on economic analyses which require thorough assessment of costs to the community and which consider feasible alternatives.
  • Set binding limits on cumulative air, noise, water and carbon emissions and require comprehensive baseline monitoring and real-time, transparent compliance monitoring.
8. Amend s3.3, the Strategic Planning Principles, to:
  • Remove the bias towards development (remove point 10 and amend point 1).
  • Require ecologically sustainable development and evidence-based planning processes.
  • Include the protection of sensitive natural areas and the health of communities, and to require cumulative impact assessments. 
9. Make NSW Planning Policies legal instruments that must be approved by the NSW Parliament.

10. Create a new system where independent consultants prepare reports on impact for a statutory authority, not the proponents.

11. Require mandatory accreditation of environmental consultants who prepare Environmental Impact Assessments

12. Require external peer-review and auditing of EIA reports and subsequent project outcomes

13. Require decision makers to reject EIA reports that are unsatisfactory or incomplete

Lock the Gate Alliance
Lock the Gate Alliance · PO Box 864, Chatswood, NSW 2057, Australia
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Coal Company Misrepresents NSW Farmers

Member Alert
25 June 2013

Dear Member

Template land access arrangement withdrawn

Late in 2012, NSW Farmers launched, in conjunction with the NSW Minerals Council and NSW Government, a template Land Access Arrangement for Minerals Exploration under the Mining Act 1992.

The aim of the template was to assist members who were negotiating access for minerals exploration. We entered into this exercise in good faith and extreme care was taken to ensure that the template was a quality starting point for negotiations. As we stressed at the time, the template was not suited for every enterprise and was not a substitute for independent legal advice.

It has come to our attention however that a coal company has misrepresented an access agreement to landowners, saying it reflects the conditions and provisions in our template.

We have also become aware that some access agreements which are not our template agreement but which appear to look the same (ie same look with the NSW Farmers logo) are being distributed to some landholders.

As such, NSW Farmers wishes to advise all members that NSW Farmers is withdrawing the template from our website effective immediately and that we no longer endorse its use.

It is unfortunate we have had to take such action but the protection of our members rights is of paramount importance to us and under the circumstances it is our only option. 

NSW Farmers remains in a very strong position to be able to advise members on their rights and responsibilities in relation to mining and coal seam gas matters.

We have a dedicated hotline to answer any questions you may have on land access and mining law. Please don’t hesitate to contact our Mining and CSG Communications Officers on 1300 794 000.


For further information call the Member Service Centre on 1300 794 000.