Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Strategic Agricultural Land Use

By Kelly Fuller and Jennifer Ingall 
The State Government has released it's Strategic Land Use Policy
Anger and criticism has been levelled at the State Government over the release of its Strategic Land Use Policy.

Additional areas of land have been added to the 'Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land', after concerns the first draft left out some of the valuable farming land in the North West.

The NSW Farmers Association had called on the state government to introduce the Gateway process at the exploration stage, not when the Development Application is awarded.

However the policy still allows for the DA to proceed while the Gateway application certificate is lodged, and the Gateway panel assesses the project against land and water impacts.

A clause that would have allowed certain mining or CSG projects to bypass the Gateway process has been removed from this policy. The Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard said it was the meeting in Gunnedah in March that lead the government to withdraw the cabinet veto clause on projects.

"The exceptional circumstances clause was almost gone at the meeting, it was pointed out to me that what we were doing was all about trust with the community. The advice we had much earlier was there might be some extraordinary circumstances where a cabinet might want to override it, we've decided that the policy has been so well developed with the community, there's absolutely no need for that."

The Central Council on Natural Resources & Energy Policy within the NSW National Party also called for Strategic Agriculture land to be permanently quarantined any from extraction activities, but the Government has not supported the idea.

The Agriculture minister, Katrina Hodgkinson said ring fences can be very dangerous.

"What happens on the other side, what happens if you just miss out? ... we decided the best way forward would be to apply an extremely rigorous Gateway process"

The policy has also abandoned the concept of buffer zones.

The government has introduced a minimum harm standard for the Aquifer Interference Policy, but will not enshrine the standard in legislation.

It has also lifted the ban on fraccing, while maintain the ban on BTEX chemicals.

The government hasn't yet appointed members to the Gateway panel.

Minister Hodgkinson said she was confident with the result of the policy.

".. it is going to have the toughest Gateway process anywhere, and I am sure as a result of this there will be many areas that will just be off limits."

The Minerals Council this afternoon also criticised the policy.

The C-E-O of the New South Wales Minerals Council Stephen Galilee has told ABC news he's worried investors could be scared off by the new land use policy.

"We accept that additional requirements are needed so the community can having confidence that projects are being assessed rigorously but if you have too much regulation and new conditions and requirements as part of an assessment process you do run the risk of scaring away investment which will have an impact on jobs and on royalties and on economic growth
here in New South Wales," he says.

New South Wales Agriculture Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson has been speaking with ABC New England North West's Kelly Fuller about the Land Use Policy:

Original Article Here

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