Friday, 16 November 2012 15:06
Mass protests are being flagged if the NSW Government doesn't change its mining policy to further protect agricultural land.
The government on Thursday released an amendment to its mining policy which it said will enable "independent, upfront and scientific assessment" of coal seam gas (CSG) projects through a three member gateway panel.
But NSW Farmers said the panel can't prevent any damaging projects from proceeding.
They also said the policy doesn't include sufficient protections for highly productive agricultural land.
The organisation's land use policy manager Charlie Thomas said farmers weren't against mining or CSG.
However, he said they are concerned there is no appropriate process to protect water, land and farmer's property rights.
"We just want appropriate protections put in place before the industry proceeds," Mr Thomas told AAP.
"Ideally we'd like areas of strategic agricultural land ruled off-limits to mining and CSG.
"They need to put in place binding water protection rules... they need to give landholders the right to refuse access where they have concerns about impact on their land and water resources."
If protections aren't put in place, farmers could lose the use of valuable agricultural land and will be relegated to areas the CSG companies don't want, he said.
Mass rallies and protests, in collaboration with groups such as anti-CSG campaigners Lock The Gate and GetUp! could happen if the government doesn't heed calls for protections, Mr Thomas said.
"We've been given a strong mandate by our members to continue fighting this issue," he said.
"I certainly wouldn't rule out further protest actions or whatever the case might be."
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