LETTER: Farming for fossil fuels

A RECENT story (‘‘Residents want action on mining’’, Herald, 7/12), referred specifically to the Gloucester community’s representations to the NSW Premier, which noted: ‘‘The Independent Commission Against Corruption has disclosed enough evidence now to cause sweeping changes to government policy, practice and relationships.’’ 

I agree that the government has to readdress its long-term friendship with the fossil-fuel industry. I understand well over half of NSW (70per cent) is covered by mining exploration licences (including coalmining and coal seam gas exploration). 

I believe it is extremely important that our agricultural industry has the right to refuse access to mining. 

Obviously, if a coalmine or coal seam gas happens to be on/in the land next door, your property is devalued (and there is a corresponding decrease in water security for the region). We have witnessed time and again the coalmining companies, in particular, buying up properties surrounding their projects.

The negative economic impact of such activity on local and regional communities is yet to be accounted for. Not surprisingly, most of these arrangements take place behind closed doors. 

We do know about the social impacts that the coalmining companies’ land acquisition strategy has had on small communities – it changes the very nature of those towns and communities. 

In terms of ensuring a credible future for our agricultural industry, who knows what that holds when that industry is constantly held hostage by the threat of expansion of the mining sector, because of the government’s reticence in representing the rights of seemingly powerless constituents. 

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