Upper Mooki Landcare Inc, WILLOW TREE NSW, made the following submission on the project:

Change to mining policy

RE: Proposed changes to the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).

I am writing in support of the proposal by Minister Stokes to remove clause 12AA of the SEPP. I would like to congratulate the Minister on this proposal. This clause prioritising short term "economic significance" (a debatable concept in view of the "triple bottom line" approach to projects) in regards to coal mines is inequitable and negated the proper consideration of environment and social issues when decisions are being made on coal mine proposals.

I would request that you also consider the adoption of further amendments to the SEPP to improve balance and fairness to agriculture and community interests across the state as follows:

1. Part 9A of the SEPP needs to be amended to make open-cut coal mining a prohibited development within the exclusion zones currently applied to coal seam gas.

2. Further exclusions for coal and gas should also be listed in Schedule 1 of the SEPP, including the Special Areas of Sydney’s drinking water catchment, the Broke-Fordwich wine region, and a 10km buffer around equine and viticulture critical industry clusters. In addition to this list should be added productive farmland, productive aquifers and critically endangered woodlands.

3. The list of critical industry clusters needs to be expanded to include additional clusters identified through a systematic process, in addition to horse-breeding and wine-growing in the Hunter. It is vital that areas producing food are given the same priority as horse breeding and wine growing - it occurs to me that at this time Government is prioritizing industries for alcohol and gambling above food security into the future.

3. The 2km exclusion around urban areas and residential zones should be extended to also apply to all household dwellings - for both unconventional gas and coal mining.

4. For water resources, the prohibition must include alluvial aquifers and 2km around fourth order streams in an expanded Part 9A.

5. Part 12AB (Non-discretionary standards) constrains consent authorities from adopting more stringent environmental standards than the SEPP allows. This is utterly irresponsible and is leading to poor environmental and social outcomes. The action of this provision must be reversed so that development cannot occur if it breaches the standards, but consent authorities are free to adopt more stringent standards where appropriate.

6. Similarly, the â€oevoluntary” land acquisition and mitigation policy is fundamentally unjust and must be repealed or dramatically altered.

6. The Major Projects Offset policy must be changed to restore the â€oelike-for-like” principle on all offsets and limit the use of mine-site rehabilitation and complementary measures for offsetting.

7. Ensure the public can appeal poor decisions by the reinstatement of full merits appeals at all levels of the approval process. The Minister, and the Planning and Assessment Commission must ensure that the next mining projects being considered, Drayton South, Narrabri Gas and Bylong Projects have full merits appeal rights retained â€" this simply requires ensuring there is no public hearing of the PAC.

9. Consideration of incomplete approvals (e.g. Shenhua Watermark mine) in light of ICAC processes and decisions of proven corrupt Ministers.

8. Where the PAC is involved in the approvals process, a full disclosure of a register of PAC members financial interests should be made available to the public.