Delivery of the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy - What it means for coal and gas projects on or near strategic agricultural land

The NSW Government has recently released a number of draft plans, policies and guidelines that deliver on its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy. This Policy aims to protect high quality agricultural land and water resources from the impact of mining and petroleum projects.

Significantly, all State significant mining and petroleum proposals on or within 2km of strategic agricultural land will be considered under an independent gateway assessment and will require a gateway certificate before a development application may be lodged. The gateway assessment process will investigate the impacts of major resource projects on strategic agricultural land undertaken by a panel of experts and the decision of the panel is final and binding. Those projects failing to pass the gateway cannot proceed to lodge a development application.

The NSW Government has acknowledged that, due to the implementation of the gateway, some exploration licences issued in the past will not lead to mining or production in the future.

The Policy also includes:

  • The introduction of strict new controls to protect groundwater and aquifers;
  • The requirement to prepare an agricultural impact statement as part of the environmental impact statement;
  • The implementation of stringent new rules for coal seam gas exploration and production; and
  • Banning the use of BTEX chemicals and evaporation ponds.

While the Policy is aimed at protecting strategic agricultural land from coal and petroleum projects, and will clearly have a significant impact on these industries, proponents of other major projects on or near strategic agricultural land should familiarise themselves with the Policy as such projects may be affected by the draft Aquifer Interference Policy and Guideline for Agricultural Impact Statements.

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The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.

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Christine Covington

Partner. Sydney
+61 2 9210 6428