February 1st, 2020: NSW Government bows to mining industry and weakens IPC; Narrabri CSG fast-track likely

The NSW Government looks set to weaken the Independent Planning Commission following a review by the Productivity Commission, potentially putting the Narrabri CSG project on a fast-track following the ‘energy deal’ announced yesterday.

The review released today recommends, among other things:

  1. Preventing the IPC from considering modifications to developments, no matter how large and serious the impact or how strong the public objection;
  2. Fast-tracking the process so that the IPC can only hold a single public hearing on a project;
  3. Limiting the IPC’s scope to obtain its own expert or legal advice if the Department of Planning has already done so, compromising its independence.

The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has accepted the recommendations of the review.

This comes after the NSW Government folded to mining industry pressure last year and introducing a Bill to limit climate change considerations by the IPC when determining coal and gas projects. A public hearing inquiring into that Bill is scheduled for this week.

“These changes to the IPC appear to reduce the opportunity for local communities to have a say on big mining and gas projects that threaten their livelihoods and their local environments,” said Georgina Woods, Coordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.

“We’re deeply concerned that these reforms will now put the Narrabri CSG project on a fast-track to approval, following the NSW Government flagging its intention to find more gas as part of it’s so-called ‘energy deal’ with the Federal Government yesterday.

“When combined with moves to effectively abolish consideration of downstream climate impacts from mining and gas projects, these changes today swing the NSW planning system even further in favour of mining giants and away from local communities.

“As NSW communities are counting the cost of the worst bushfire season ever, it’s appalling that the NSW Government’s priority is to make it easier for mining and gas projects to railroad rural communities, destroy farmland and belch more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere,” she said.