THE New South Wales Government last week released details of transitional arrangements that will allow for the staged implementation of the government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, which has a particular focus on industries such as mining and petroleum, agriculture and tourism.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister, Brad Hazzard, said the new approach to regional land use was a commitment made by the NSW Liberals and Nationals prior to this year's state election.
"Prior to the election, the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government announced that it would introduce a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy to strike the right balance between our important agricultural, mining and energy sectors - while ensuring the protection of high value conservation lands. We are now delivering on that commitment," Mr Hazzard said.
The Minister said the policy includes a "number of immediate and longer term measures designed to address issues occurring now, as well as providing better certainty to our communities and industry about how our regions will change over time."
According to the government, the transitional measures in the policy include:
- An immediate 60 day moratorium on the granting of new coal, coal seam gas, and petroleum exploration licences in NSW;
- A requirement that all applications for coal, coal seam gas, and petroleum exploration licences be exhibited for public comment – a new benchmark in transparency;
- The public notification of Guidelines which will inform the assessment of impacts on strategic agricultural land from proposed development activities;
- A requirement that all new coal, coal seam gas, and petroleum extraction applications must be accompanied by an Agricultural Impact Statement;
- The exhibition of an Aquifer Interference Regulation for public comment – which once implemented, will introduce a suite of new measures to better regulate activities that impact on aquifers; and
- A stakeholder reference group consisting of the key agricultural, industrial and conservation groups will be established to advise on the policy's development and implementation.
Mr Hazzard said the transitional measures were the first step in providing a comprehensive framework for the management of competing land uses across regional areas of NSW.
The new approach will be based on Regional Strategic Plans that aim to introduce a tailored approach to the specific needs, challenges and opportunities of each region. The preparation of these plans - for all 'strategically important' regions – will begin within twelve months.
"Regional Strategic Plans will ensure a balanced and sustainable management of competing land uses in each region rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to land use planning. These plans will provide local communities with far greater certainty about how their areas will change over time," Mr Hazzard said.