Farmers protest broken promises

THE NSW Farmer's Association has called on Premier Barry O'Farrell to stop putting the imperatives of mining companies before farmers, after the Opposition leaked the government's draft Aquifer Interference Policy last Thursday.

The president of the Farmer's Association, Fiona Simson, said the government had broken election promises in deeming the bulk of mining and coal seam projects as 'state significant'. This move, they say, means that lands the farmers most wished to be subject to the policy would be exempt.

It specifically excluded large coal and gas mining companies from the need to get aquifer interference approvals - despite election promises by the O'Farrell government to address the impacts of coal and gas mining on water resources.

The policy was not released on the NSW Government website.

The Premier backed the stance of his Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, who has criticised farmers for going public with their concerns. Mr Hazzard's office said that the release of the policy was premature, as it hadn't gone to Cabinet yet, and compromised a confidential stakeholder's briefing.

Boudicca Ceres, spokesperson for Northern Rivers Lock The Gate, said the draft policy had let the people of NSW down.

"It ignores thousands of submissions made by concerned citizens and fails to provide any meaningful protection for our vital groundwater resources from coal seam gas extraction," she said.

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