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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The Member for Dubbo Troy Grant believes the NSW Government’s new Strategic Regional Land Use Policy will provide a clear path of protection for Strategic Agricultural Land, while achieving a balance between continued and expanded resource extraction and a safe and sustainable agricultural sector.

“Getting the balance right between the two sectors is of paramount importance," Mr Grant said.

“The Dubbo electorate is a good example of how the right balance can be achieved with Rio Tinto, Alkane Resources, Barrack Gold and the nearby Cobbora mine projects sitting comfortably with the communities of Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Narromine and surrounds, who stand to benefit most from the economic development each will bring to the region."

The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy features 27 initiatives. Key initiatives include:
• Identification of Strategic Agricultural Land so that proposed projects must go through the new Gateway process, an independent, scientific and upfront assessment of the impacts of mining and CSG production proposals;
• Creation of a Land and Water Commissioner position with an unfettered oversight role with respect to exploration across the State;
• The specific assessment of agricultural impacts at the CSG exploration stage through the preparation of an Agricultural Impact Statement for projects on Strategic Agricultural Land;
• A statewide Aquifer Interference Policy to protect crucial water resources by assessing potential impacts associated with mining and CSG activities;
• New Codes of Practice for the coal seam gas (CSG) industry covering well drilling standards and hydraulic fracturing;
• Creation of 40 new positions to meet increased assessment, compliance and community liaison functions, with most of these located in regional NSW;
• Local communities to receive a share of their region’s assets through new Regional Community Funds.

Mr Grant said the Land and Water Commissioner will oversee the development of land access agreements and appoint mediators where required as well as providing advice on all CSG exploration wells in areas yet to be mapped.

Any mining or CSG production proposal that would potentially impact on agricultural land or water in the region must include an Agricultural Impact Statement in its development application.

The new Aquifer Interference Policy protects underground water resources including the risk of seepage between aquifers, impacts on the water table, water pressure levels, and water quality changes in different types of groundwater systems.

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