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NSW community want to appeal against projects: poll

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A poll has found almost nine out of 10 people in NSW want the ability to appeal against coal mining projects that receive approval in their vicinity.

The Essential Media poll, commissioned by the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) of NSW found 87 per cent of the 1100 people surveyed said communities should be allowed to go to court to launch appeals against coal project approvals.

NCC chief Pepe Clarke said the poll is an indication the state government is out of touch with community sentiment, AAP reported.

“People want access to the courts to ensure that bureaucrats and politicians are held accountable for the decisions they make,” Clarke said.

“Unfortunately, the government is attempting to put that option out of reach of most ordinary citizens.”

Clarke pointed to Bulga’s victory against Rio Tinto’s Warkworth mine expansion in the Hunter Valley earlier this year and said that would not have been possible under the state government’s plan.

“Under the regime proposed by the O’Farrell government it is unlikely that community legal challenges such as the one the Bulga community won against Rio Tinto’s Warkworth mine expansion would be possible,” he said.

“The O’Farrell government’s approach is unbalanced and unfair. It favours powerful sectional interests ahead of the communities the government is supposed to serve.”

A NSW court recently reversed approval on the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine in the Hunter Valley. Rio slashed 40 jobs the following week.

More than 1500 people dependant on Warkworth signed a petition in May urging NSW parliament to protect their jobs. The petition was signed by employees, contractors, suppliers and family members associated with the mine.

The NSW Minerals Council recently blamed the state's 'broken' planning system for the current downturn in the Hunter's coal mining sector.

It also said project delays of 12 months or more is putting 29,000 jobs and $10.3 billion in investment at risk across the state.

A spokesman for Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said mining projects need to be considered individually ‘as each proposal is different and requires detailed scrutiny’.

He said the government’s land use proposal protected agricultural land.

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