NSW Farmers has expressed outrage that on the same day the Federal Government launched the Agricultural White Paper and discussed the sector’s importance, the Environment Minister was approving a mine that will disturb an area equivalent to more than 4000 football fields in the middle of some of Australia’s best farming country.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday gave conditional approval to the $1.2 billion Watermark Liverpool Plains coal project headed by Chinese Government owned company Shenhua.
“The Prime Minister said at the white paper launch that government would never allow an extractive industry project to go ahead where it would threaten the long term viability of our agricultural sector,” NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said.
“This notion is completely at odds with an open-cut coal mine being built in some of our best food producing land that sits over the top of some of our most important agricultural water resources.
Ms Simson said NSW Farmers’ members and the were are more than disappointed – they were “devastated” over the lack of political will to protect the area.
The Liverpool Plains produces about 40 percent more than the national average of food per hectare and is the highest contributor to agriculture value in NSW.
“They are angry that after having engaged constructively and fully in a project approvals process, that the project will proceed.
“Our farmers and community are sick of having to live with a flawed government planning process which has failed to implement the required measures to adequately protect agricultural land from inappropriate projects here and in other areas of the state.
“NSW Farmers has worked constructively with the process and taken every opportunity to highlight the complete policy failure that has brought us all to this point.
“It illustrates the failure of government policy to provide protection for our best agricultural land. If an open-cut coal mine project can happen on the Liverpool Plains – it can happen anywhere.
“Farmer and community opposition to this project is not going to go away. We will be supporting our members and those in the community to ensure that this mine does not proceed.
“It is plainly obvious that the state government needs to get serious about the real and robust protection of our best food producing areas. We are tired of the platitudes, we want to see action.”
Federal agriculture minister and deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said was ridiculous to put major mine in the midst of Australia’s best agricultural land.
“I’ve done everything in my power to try and stop the mine,” Mr Joyce posted on his Facebook page following yesterday’s announcement by his cabinet colleague and Liberal Party member Greg Hunt.
“We brought about further investigations; we had an independent expert scientific review,” Mr Joyce explained.
“I feel this approval is unfortunate, but at the very least it gives the Minister for the Environment the condition that if any of the modelling does not turn out to be factual he has the capacity to stop it at that point.”
Mr Joyce said the fault went right back to who gave the exploration licences and why and was further exacerbated by those who deemed it proper that it should proceed and continued on with the process.
“Our involvement federally was part of step 15 of 17 steps. There are still two further steps at the state level to go through.
I’ve said publicly and privately I don’t support this mine. I still don’t support this mine and that will remain forever more my view.
“I think the world has gone mad when apparently you cannot build a house at Moore Creek because of White Box grassy woodlands but you can build a super mine in the middle of the Breeza plains.”
Source; NSW Farmers