Nationals Leader John Barilaro has thrown the community of Wollar near Mudgee under a coal truck by using a new process to open up land for exploration without consulting the people who live there. 
“Wollar already has three massive coal mines on its north-western flank – Ulan, Moolarben and Wilpinjong. The creation of new mines east of Wollar will make the village virtually unliveable,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“Ulan and Wilpinjong continue to have massive impacts on the local community, wildlife and water supplies.
“Opening up the east of the valley for more mining will create a 40km-long death zone through what was a very beautiful part of the state. It’s a crying shame.”
Mr Gambian said the decision to issue exploration licences before consulting affected communities broke the government’s 2014 promise to give communities a say before exploration permits were issued.
“The NSW Government set up the Strategic Release Framework in 2014 to quell public anger about the vast areas of prime farmland and wildlife habitat being destroyed by coal and gas projects,” Mr Gambian said. 
“The government boasted at the time that the framework incorporated recommendations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Chief Scientist and that it would restore public confidence in the process.
“Under the framework, the community had the right to comment very early in the process through a Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment.
“But the government has removed that right for some communities by introducing a new process called Competitive Allocation, which sidesteps community consultation and goes straight to the issuing of exploration licences.
“It is an outrageous betrayal of community trust. Farmers and communities are yet again collateral damage in the Nationals love affair with big coal.
“And the government’s approach appears to be completely ad hoc. Just up the road at Rylstone, locals are being given the chance to participate in a preliminary assessment of a proposal to open that beautiful area for mining. The government’s approach is cruel and chaotic.”
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