Green groups have expressed disappointment that the joint parliamentary committee report into ‘greenfields’ mineral developments has failed to deliver a moratorium on further exploration for coal and coal seam gas.
“While the minerals industry got some of the fast tracking they had hoped for, the report has certainly not delivered them everything” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator.
“We welcome a number of recommendations, including a proposed strategic land use policy framework to better manage the competing needs of agriculture and mining. This process has a lot of potential. However, for it to avoid the mistakes made in New South Wales, it must primarily provide protection for sensitive environmental and agricultural areas, not just mineral resources.”
“Of greatest significance is the recommendation that the government create a process to ensure open consultation with communities regarding future coal seam gas exploration and development.”
“Given that the government has been saying that existing laws provide adequate protection to landowners, the creation of this process and a state-wide strategic land use framework shows they have started to listen to community concerns.”
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said:
“Despite the fact that huge swathes of Victoria are covered in exploration licences, this Inquiry seems to be wanting to make mining regulations and processes even more pro-development at the expense of existing industries and communities.
Strategic land use planning may address some of these conflicts, however the flavour of this report is that mining is valued more than other industries, communities or the environment. The Baillieu Government’s planned coal allocation in the Latrobe Valley will highlight and escalate this conflict between the public interest and mining interests” Mr Wakeham concluded.
“The commitment to greater consultation with regional communities affected by mining is an important recognition of their well-founded concerns,” said Michael Power, Law Reform Lawyer at the Environment Defenders Office.
“But the report leaves a long way to go before Victorians can be sure that they and their environment are being protected.”
“The report does nothing to ensure that the environment receives strong protection. The proposal to develop a ‘one-stop-shop’ approvals framework is particularly concerning — high-impact mining proposals need more assessment, not less.”
Green groups would hold grave concerns about any weakening of protection to nature reserves and increased access to Crown land for mining as a result of this process.
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth: 0419 338 047
Michael Power, Environment Defenders Office: 0410 578 688
Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria: 0439 700 501