Missing the Connection: How SRLU Policy Fragments Landscapes and Communities in NSW
Sherval, Meg and Graham, Nicole 'Missing the Connection: how the strategic regional land use policy fragments landscapes and communities in NSW' (2013) 38 (3) Alternative Law Journal 176-180.
7 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2014 Last revised: 18 Mar 2014
Date Written: November 19, 2013
In 2012, responding to community opposition to coal seam gas mining in rural and regional NSW, the O’Farrell government announced its proposed suite of law reforms to address what it saw as flaws in the planning process. The Strategic Regional Land Use ('SRLU') Policy is a key component of these proposed reforms. The Draft SRLUP for the Upper Hunter region ('the Plan') was one of the first two plans for NSW. This article contends that there are gaps in both the logic and detail of the Plan’s mechanisms that disconnect people from place. These gaps indicate that the necessary tools for the Plan’s key functions — information and evaluation — belie its claimed neutrality. There are substantial knowledge gaps and imbalances in the assessment process. Scientific and economic research indicates that the known disruption to land approved for CSG mining is potentially harmful to both the hydrological and geological systems on which local communities and economies depend. The policy disregards the physical and cultural connections between communities living in the Upper Hunter and the lands, waters or 'places' on which they depend. The article outlines the claims and objectives of the policy in general terms before exploring the conceptual framework of the policy, and the gap between the vision the NSW government has for the Upper Hunter region as presented in the Plan, and that of regional communities themselves.
Keywords: regional land use plan, planning law, coal seam gas, mining
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