Farmers and property owners from around NSW have protested about what they say is the “intimacy” of the state’s planning department with the mining industry.
About 20 people from regional NSW marched to the Department of Planning and Environment’s Sydney headquarters on Wednesday to lodge a lengthy log of claims detailing claimed examples of the department making decisions favouring mining at the expense of communities and the environment.
Protest organiser Georgina Woods, of the Lock the Gate Alliance, said representatives of the group met with newly appointed department secretary, Carolyn McNally and outlined their grievances in a 45-minute discussion.
“I think we managed to get on her agenda a whole lot of overdue matters about the department’s behaviour,” Ms Woods told AAP.
Issues raised by the protesters ranged from the department’s role in drafting planning policy changes giving prominence to economic considerations in mine assessments, to region-specific matters across the Hunter, Central Coast, Sydney water catchment and Liverpool Plains.
Major coal project proposals, including the Wallarah 2 Coal Project on the Central Coast and the Shenhua Watermark project at Gunnedah were among those mentioned.
Beef cattle farmer Janet Fenwick travelled from her property near Singleton for the protest.
Ms Fenwick said she was still waiting for the department to facilitate repairs to a creek bed on her property and for additional water compensation 10 years after the creek ran dry after mine subsidence damage.
Her property is near the Peabody-owned Wambo Coal Mine in the upper Hunter Valley.
“We have lots of holes, a dry creek and we have about half the cattle we should have,” Ms Fenwick said.
A Department of Planning and Environment spokesman said Ms McNally had heard from representatives from a number of areas and “reinforced her commitment to keep listening to the community on this important issue”.
Ms Woods said the protesters had called for more balance in departmental decision making.
“I wouldn’t say I’m confident there will be change in the short term but I can say we will go back there and amplify the protest if we don’t start to see change,” she said.