THE New South Wales Government's regional land use policy is not a genuine attempt to protect the state's best farm land or water resources, a key federal independent said on Tuesday.
Member for New England Tony Windsor was integral in the push for the $150 million Commonwealth independent scientific committee on coal and coal seam gas.
In a speech to the Academy of Science in Canberra on Tuesday, Mr Windsor, who hails from close to the highly productive Liverpool Plains, hit out at the new State Regional Land Use Policy.
He said the fact the policy was not enshrined in law had not garnered any positive response from the community.
Mr Windsor said criticism from the mining and CSG industry was also empty because the policy was "in reality, a very thin layer of bureaucracy", and was not backed up in law.
"In my view the land use policy and the so-called Gateway process is not a policy at all - it doesn't address the concerns at all," he said.
Mr Windsor said he was also concerned the State Government was considering promoting the policy statements to the national Partnership Agreement on Coal and CSG as their "protocols".
If so, he said, the protocols would be inadequate, and he would be watching to ensure the State's protocol proposals were up to scratch when official submissions were sent through later this week.
"I believe that conflict can be resolved, but it's not going to be resolved from one side yelling at the other over a fence," he said.
"That's where people power really has a role to play - local residents have to demand that companies and the government ensure there is no risk - and if there is any risk, then the precautionary principle should take precedence."
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