The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy identifies and protects more than 2 million hectares of strategic agricultural land, protects valuable water resources and provides greater certainty for companies wanting to invest in mining and coal seam gas projects in regional NSW.
Key elements of the package include:
- Strengthening the regulation of exploration activity and creation of a Land and Water Commissioner
- Strategic Regional Land Use Plans (SRLUPs) covering the Upper Hunter and New England North West regions
- A statewide Aquifer Interference Policy
- The requirement for an Agricultural Impact Statement at the exploration and development application stages
- Two new Codes of Practice for the CSG industry
As a result of this policy, all State significant mining and coal seam gas proposals that extend beyond an existing lease area on strategic agricultural land must go through an independent, scientific and upfront assessment of their agricultural land and water impacts before a development application can be lodged.
Additional coal seam gas exclusions
On 19 February 2013, the Premier announced
an additional package of tough new measures to protect residential areas and critical industry clusters from CSG activity. These include:
- New CSG exploration and production activities will be prohibited within and under existing and future residential areas as well as land identified as part of a critical industry cluster. Land within two kilometres of residential land will also be excluded from CSG acticity.
- The independent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will now be the lead regulator of environmental and health impacts of CSG activities in NSW with responsibility for compliance and enforcement.
- An Office of CSG Regulation will be established within the Department of Trade and Investment to enforce other regulations.
- The Chief Scientist and Engineer will conduct an independent review of all CSG activities in NSW, including the potential impact on rural residences and potential impacts on water catchments.
- All exploration, assessment and production titles and activities will be required to hold and Environment Protection Licence.
To implement the proposed exclusion zones, an amendment is required to the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). The draft amendment is currently on public exhibition until Friday 12 April 2013 and can be viewed here.
Other documents related to the public exhibition, include:
Previous public exhibitions
A number of changes to the State's planning laws are required to implement measures outlined in the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, including establishment of the Gateway process and Gateway Panel.
These also required an amendment to the Mining SEPP, as well as the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation. The proposed changes were publicly exhibited in late 2012 and all relevant information, including the submissions received, can be found here
Cost benefit analysis
NSW Treasury also exhibited a draft cost benefit analysis methodology for mining and coal seam gas (CSG) proposals. This methodology has been prepared for use by mining and CSG applicants should they choose to provide a cost benefit analysis as part of their development application.
This exhibition is now closed and all the relevant information, including submissions, can be found here
Establishment of the Gateway Panel
Applications for members and a chairperson for the Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel are now closed. The independent body will be responsible for the expert assessment of State significant mining and coal seam gas proposals located on strategic agricultural land.
Further information will be provided once the panel members are appointed.
Interim Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL) Site Verification Protocol
The NSW Government has finalised the Interim Protocol for Site Verification and Mapping of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land. The purpose of this protocol is to assist proponents and landholders understand what is required to identify the existence of BSAL (including outlining the technical requirements for the on-site identification and mapping).
Additionally, the department wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald with further advice about the need for such a protocol.
Policy Announcement Documents - September 2012
Agricultural Impact Statements
The department has prepared a guideline to assist applicants and others understand the information required for an Agricultural Impact Statement for State significant development applications.
Following the release of the Government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy in September 2012, the department has reviewed and updated the guideline to ensure the advice is up-to-date and consistent with the final policy.
This Strategic Regional Land Use Policy is the result of an extensive consultation process, during which the views of farmers, miners and the wider community were heard and have informed the policy’s development and final outcome.
Between 8 March and 14 May 2012, the draft policy package was placed on exhibition for public comment.
More than 2,000 submissions were received and around 1,000 people attended 11 public forums and information sessions across the two regions. Online discussion forums were also held.
SRLUPs will now be prepared for a number of other regions of the state. Preliminary work has commenced on draft plans for the Southern Highlands and Central West regions and information on community consultation opportunities will be announced early in 2013.
Preparation of plans for the Murrumbidgee, Alpine and Western regions will then follow.
The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy has been prepared with the input of a number of NSW Government agencies. For further information on the overall policy and its various elements, please visit: www.nsw.gov.au/strategicregionallanduse