Lock The Gate poster.
Lock The Gate poster.

Penny pauses Premier’s planning

IT SEEMS you have to get on Alan Jones radio show if you are an anti-coal seam gas activist and you want to get a meeting with Premier Barry O'Farrell.

At the end of June, Lock the Gate co-ordinator for the north-west region Penny Blatchford put out a media release warning of changes to the Petroleum Onshore Act that would affectlandowners' rights.

Alan Jones picked it up and put her on his show and in her words, "the shit hit the fan".

"I was encouraging the crossbenchers to make amendments or to put forward a disallowance motion. Chris Hartcher (Resources and Energy Minister) realised he didn't have the support because every member of the Upper House who wasn't part of the Coalition wanted to make amendments. It was embarrassing for him," Ms Blatchford said. "I wrote a letter seeking a meeting and Premier Barry O'Farrell told Alan Jones on the radio that he was meeting with me."

She said she wanted to "let the dust settle" and on Monday, the promised meeting with the Premier and Mr Hartcher eventuated.

She said she got "a fair hearing" and the Premier was "very receptive".

The main issue up for discussion was a proposed change to planning laws that would put the economic benefit from mining activities ahead of "triple bottom line" considerations of social and environmental impacts.

Ms Blatchford said if it is passed, planners would have limited powers to reject any coal, CSG or other mineral developments in NSW.

"The SEPP (State Environment Planning Policy) amendment's principal consideration for a development would be the economic benefit. We believe effects on other industries, on health, the environment and water should be equally considered and the amendments should be scrapped."

She said the Premier gave her an assurance that if the amendments can't get "broad agreement" they won't go forward.

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