CROWDS of protesters, estimated by police to be 4000-strong, rallied outside the NSW Parliament today, calling for tougher restrictions on coal and coal seam gas mining.
A combined protest by farmers, rural residents, environmentalists and other activists marched on the Parliament, banging drums and chanting "country and city united we stand, protect our water, protect our land".
A large contingent from Hunter Valley was among the protesters.
Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders vice president Andrew Wiles said the rally highlighted the depth of feeling within rural communities for strong protection for water resources and high-value agricultural land.
The rally was called to oppose the state government’s draft strategic regional land use policy for the Upper Hunter.
The Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner was shouted at and booed as he tried to reassure the angry crowd the state government would protect agricultural land.
‘‘The government is listening to each and every one of you,’’ Mr Stoner said.
Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush called on National MPs to "stand tall" and listen to their rural constituents.
"If that means entering into a dispute with your Coalition partners then that is what you ought to do," he said.
President of the NSW Farmers Association Fiona Simpson told the crowd her group felt betrayed by the state government’s proposed guidelines for balancing mining and farming interests, saying it was not what they were promised before the election.
Other MPs from the Coalition, Labor and the Greens were present at the rally.