Newcastle and Hunter residents are being urged to help make the region’s future far more than coal, by making a submission to the NSW Government’s current Regional Planning proposals for the area. Having worked with the NSW Government to extend the submission deadline to 24 March, the Greens NSW are urging Hunter residents to take the opportunity to make a submission focusing on sustainable 21st century opportunities for the region, rather than just the dead end plan of more coal mining and coal exports.
NSW Greens MP and Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge met with Hunter community and environment groups in early February to discuss the Hunter Regional plan and Hunter City plan. At that meeting it was clear that residents and community groups were fully occupied with responding to council amalgamation plans, submissions for which closed on 28 February 2016, the exact same date as submissions were closing on the regional planning strategies.
Taking this message to the Minister for Planning produced a four week extension on submissions for the Hunter planning instruments to 24 March 2016.
The Greens are now calling on everyone concerned about the future of the Hunter and Newcastle to take advantage of this extra time and put a submission in calling for regional planning that delivers far more for the region than clinging to a dying coal industry.
“The government’s draft plan lays out a future for Newcastle as little more than a coal export facility with a train line linking up gasfields and coal quarries, “said Mr Shoebridge. “The Hunter community understand that this plan is neither sustainable or desirable. The Greens have a plan for future for this region is diverse and thriving, but this can only happen if the State’ regional plans reflect community aspirations and the economic realities of the energy market.”
“The draft plan sterilises significant areas of the region for coal and gas mining, which will entrench land use conflicts that threaten the region’s world class winery, equine and environmental tourism industries,” said Mr Shoebridge.
“The Planning Department’s vision for the future of this region is locked fimly in the past. Everyone with a stake in the future prosperity of the Hunter needs to make sure that they are part of the process for defining that future. “
John Mackenzie, Greens candidate for the seat of Newcastle, said that the plan showed a lack of understanding of the lived experience of Newcastle and Hunter residents dealing with the terminal decline of coal and gas mining in the region.
“This document refers constantly to a place called ‘Hunter City’, which exists only in the minds of Planning Department bureaucrats,” said John Mackenzie. “No one who lives in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens or Maitland would use this name. It demonstrates that this plan has had practically no engagement with the people of the region to date.”
“This should be a plan that charts a course for a twenty-first century economy for our region, based on clean production, sustainable industries and a culture of innovation, “said John Mackenzie. “Instead this draft plan locks the region into a continued dependency coal and gas, which are sunset industries already in steep and terminal decline.”
FOR FURTHER INTERVIEWS
John Mackenzie, Newcastle Greens, 0405 433 550
David Shoebridge, Greens MP, 0408 113 952