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Article on on proposed changes to the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy in The Conversation

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Recently HIAConnect team member Patrick Harris with a colleague Peter Sainsbury published an article in The Conversation on proposed changes to the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy.

Should mines be approved on money alone?

By Patrick Harris and Peter Sainsbury

Recently the New South Wales Department for Planning and Infrastructure proposed changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy that governs mining. This amendment will make the policy an instrument to promote development of mineral resources. When the relevant planning authority is deciding whether to approve a mining proposal, the economic significance of the mining resource will override all other considerations.

Imagine this: it is 2015 and coal is discovered under the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. The community is concerned and the local council moves to block mining development. But the 2013 amendment to the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for mining, petroleum and extractive industries has come into force.

The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure states that, under the amended planning policy, the Bondi mine is a “relevant significant mineral resource to the State and to regions, based on economic benefits…”

The heavy machinery rolls in.

This scenario sounds preposterous, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. The consultation draft for the amendment:

  • makes “to promote the development of significant mineral resources” an explicit aim of the policy
  • specifies when considering an application for a mining development the relevant consent authority “must consider the significance of the [mining] resource […] having regard to the economic benefits, both to the State and the region in which the development is proposed”
  • specifies “the significance of the resource is to be the consent authority’s principal consideration” when deciding whether to permit the proposed mining development.

…Read the rest of the  original article.

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