THE fight against mining in the local area is hotting up, with the petition formed by ‘Lock the Mid North Coast’ (LTMNC) reaching its goal of 1000 signatures.
The group, which plans to present the petition to local MP Andrew Stoner, has had more than 1500 visitors to its Facebook page in just three weeks.
LTMNC is planning to hold an event to hand the petition over to Mr Stoner at his Kempsey Office, with hopes for some key speakers to address the gathering.
The lobby group has vowed to continue its fight against an Exploration Licence Application for group one minerals covering approximately 300 kilometres between Taylor’s Arm and Argents Hill, in the headwaters of the Nambucca River.
Meanwhile, Mr Stoner last week announced the appointment of a Land and Water Commissioner.
“We will appoint a new Land and Water Commissioner reporting to the Director General of Trade and Investment on CSG (coal seam gas) and coal mining, to oversight a new process on behalf of affected land owners,” Mr Stoner said.
He said the new process would strengthen the regulation of invasive exploration activity on strategic agricultural land before this activity occurred – a key concern of NSW Farmers.
A working group including NSW Farmers representatives, miners, irrigators, and cotton growers will also be formed to create a standardised land access agreement, which will be overseen by the new Land and Water Commissioner.
The Nationals have come under fire from
farmers who say promises about protecting farmland from mining and CSG have been watered down, with even the party’s own central council putting in a dissenting submission on the Government’s strategic regional land use policy.
“Resources can revitalise towns, increase property values and deliver higher revenue to government to fund more services and infrastructure, but not if it comes at the expense of our farmlands and water resources,” Mr Stoner said.
But the appointment of the Land and Water Commissioner was missing the point, according to vice-president of Lock The Gate Alliance, Jacinta Green.
“We understand a new Land and Water Commissioner will be appointed to oversee exploration dealings with affected landholders on strategic agricultural land,” Ms Green said.
“The Government is still missing the point, coal seam gas affects entire communities and the whole community needs to be included in the negotiation process, and individual landholders, whether they are on strategic agricultural land or not, have to accept that they are part of the chain of responsibility to their neighbours and their communities.”