Federal government to turn food bowl into coal

NSW Farmers today criticised the Federal Government’s decision which gives the giant 268 million tonne Shenhua Watermark Coal Project on the Liverpool Plains of NSW federal approval to proceed.

The association claimed it was outrageous that on the same day the government launched the Agricultural White Paper and talked up the importance of the industry to the national economy, the Environment Minister was approving a mine that will disturb an area of over 4000 football fields in size, in the middle of some of Australia’s best farming country.

Association president Fiona Simson said: “The Prime Minister said at the white paper launch that government would never allow an extractive industry project to go ahead where it would threaten the long term viability of our agricultural sector”.

“This notion is completely at odds with an open-cut coal mine being built in some of our best food producing land that sits over the top of some of our most important agricultural water resources.

“Our members and the local community are more than disappointed - they are devastated over the lack of political will to protect this area.

“The Liverpool Plains produces about 40 percent more than the national average of food per hectare and is the highest contributor to agriculture value in NSW.

“They are angry that after having engaged constructively and fully in a project approvals process, that the project will proceed.

“Our farmers and community are sick of having to live with a flawed government planning process which has failed to implement the required measures to adequately protect agricultural land from inappropriate projects here and in other areas of the state.

“NSW Farmers has worked constructively with the process and taken every opportunity to highlight the complete policy failure that has brought us all to this point.

“It illustrates the failure of government policy to provide protection for our best agricultural land. If an open-cut coal mine project can happen on the Liverpool Plains - it can happen anywhere.

“Farmer and community opposition to this project is not going to go away. We will be supporting our members and those in the community to ensure that this mine does not proceed.

“It is plainly obvious that the state government needs to get serious about the real and robust protection of our best food producing areas. We are tired of the platitudes, we want to see action,” she concluded.

ends

8 July 2015

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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