8 March, 2012

Cost benefit analysis: the ace up the mining industry’s sleeve?

Essential information is missing from the draft regional land use plans released on Tuesday by the NSW government, leaving farmland and water at risk, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“The central feature of the Government’s new regional land use plans, the ‘gateway’ process, requires an independent committee to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of mining and gas proposals on strategic agricultural land, but the methodology for conducting that analysis has not yet been prepared”, Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said today.

“It’s extraordinary that government has chosen to release the plans without first finalising the cost-benefit methodology. This is an essential element of the gateway process, which will ultimately determine which land and water resources will be protected from destructive mining and gas development.

“The ‘gateway’ process as currently proposed will perpetuate uncertainty and land use conflict, by allowing the independent committee to decide that the short-term economic benefits of a mining or gas proposal outweigh the long-term costs to landholders and the community.

“Ultimately, government must recognise that our best farmland, water resources and natural areas are irreplaceable and must be protected for the benefit of current and future generations.

“Government must urgently finalise and release the proposed cost-benefit methodology, so that landholders know where they stand.

“In the absence of this information, it is reasonable for the community to be deeply concerned about a cost-benefit methodology that favours the mining industry, trumping the protection measures supposedly offered by the gateway process,” said Mr Clarke.


Planning and Development

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