The draft SRLUPs proposed a gateway process whereby mining and CSG projects within 2km of land identified as strategic agricultural land would be assessed by an independent panel (comprised of experts in fields such as agricultural science, water, economics and mining) to determine the effect of the project on important agricultural land and resources. A development application in respect of a proposed project would not be able to be lodged and considered until the project had been assessed by the panel against various criteria and given a Gateway Certificate. A Gateway Certificate could be issued unconditionally or conditioned to address the panel’s concerns in respect of the potential impacts of the project on agricultural land and water.
The main criticism directed at the plans by farmers and environmentalists was that they didn’t go far enough to protect important agricultural land and industry; miners on the other hand complained that the reforms only worked to add cost and uncertainty to what is considered an already cumbersome and overly regulated scheme in NSW.
Following relatively extensive consultation by the NSW Government on the draft plans, the following key changes have been made in the plans released yesterday:
Projects for which Director General’s requirements have been issued will not be required to obtain a Gateway Certificate. However, these projects will still be subject to an assessment of potential agricultural impacts at the DA stage through:
Work on SRLUPs for the Central West and Southern Highlands has commenced with SRULPs for Murrumbidgee, Alpine and Western regions to follow.