Friday 9 August 2013

RSWUA submission to the Draft SEPP


cc: Barry O’;
Brad Hazzard,                                                                  

RE: State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment (Resource Significance) 2013


The Running Stream Water Users Association (RSWUA) is a community-based organisation with over 100 members dedicated to the preservation of the water resource of the Ilford/Running Stream area in Central NSW. RSWUA vehemently opposes the proposed changes to the above SEPP.

The current SEPP requires other land uses, impacts on water, biodiversity and climate to be considered by the consent authority before determining an application for mining, petroleum production or extractive industry development. The proposed changes to the SEPP would require the consent authority to make the significance of the resource the consent authority’s principal consideration.

This is totally unacceptable. In particular, RSWUA is appalled that the draft policy reverses the intention of the Aquifer Interference Policy. Water is our most precious resource on this, the driest inhabited continent, and it is therefore totally unacceptable for state significant development to be exempt from the minimal impact standards in the Aquifer Interference Policy. The policy must be made binding for all development, including mining and coal seam gas.

There must be better protection for our drinking water catchments from physical damage and water pollution by prohibiting any mining from occurring in water catchment areas.

In addition, RSWUA is strongly opposed to ‘one way’ standards that prevent consent authorities from properly assessing environmental risks associated with individual mining proposals, including impacts on sensitive rural industries and vulnerable populations (including young children and the elderly).

Particulate matter (PM) that is generated from coal mining can cause serious health impacts including asthma, respiratory and cardiac disease, damage lungs and increase the risk of premature death. Enforceable pollution controls and standards that truly protect communities must be developed.

RSWUA also finds it unacceptable to merely ‘consider’ the advice of the Office of Environment and Heritage on biodiversity impacts.  The SEPP should reflect the government’s recently announced commitment to a ‘net positive’ standard for biodiversity impacts from state significant development.

Finally, the recent ICAC hearings have well and truly exposed the dangers of giving Ministers broad discretion when assessing mining projects. The Minister should not be given this kind of power. This ill-conceived proposal puts the narrow interests of the mining companies above the interests of ordinary people and existing rural industries.

RSWUA urges you to abandon this proposal as a matter of urgency and re-draft the SEPP to include binding environmental protection standards for air, water, noise and vibration to provide real protection for local communities and the environment.

I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely,

Nell Schofield

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