|Jeremy Buckingham MLC|
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today said the assessment of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine proposed for the highly productive Liverpool Plains area would be a make or break test of the O'Farrell Government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, and if the mine is approved it would represent a policy failure. The Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed coal mine has been put on public exhibition until the Friday 26 April 2013.
"Everybody knows that the black soils of the Liverpool Plains and the underlying aquifers are far too precious to put at risk. It's just commonsense that digging a huge open cut coal mine in the middle of a critical food and fibre producing area is a bad idea," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
"Newly minted National Party MP Richard Torbay broke ranks with his National Party colleagues when he recently called for a 'halt to mining and gas extraction on the Liverpool Plains'.
"Torbay's comments have apparently infuriated other National Party MPs, including Leader, Andrew Stoner, the Member for Dubbo, Troy Grant, and Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries.
"The government says that the Shenhua Watermark project will undergo "unprecedented scrutiny", but the real question is whether the policy actually has the power to protect productive agricultural land by stopping a bad mine in the wrong area.
"The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy failed to rule out critical areas from mining or gas, instead implementing a gateway process in which the gate can not be shut. We will now see whether the policy has the teeth the government has promised.
"The Greens believe that food security and the long-term sustainable prosperity of the Liverpool Plains region should not be compromised for a Chinese state-owned coal mine leading to a few years of mine related development.
"Coal mining on the Liverpool Plains does not have a social licence. If the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy fails to reject this project, then I'm sure the community will step in to protect their land and water through locking their gates and implementing community blockades."