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Farmers welcome scientific body on mining impacts

21 November 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the announcement that a scientific expert committee will be established to conduct research into the impacts of mining and coal seam gas extraction on agricultural and environmental resources.

NFF President Jock Laurie said that the announcement, made in Federal Parliament this afternoon, is a positive move for farmers and rural communities who are worried about the impact mining and coal seam gas exploration and development could have on water and other valuable farm input resources.

“The establishment of a scientific expert committee to look at the impacts of these developments is a very welcome move and something communities across affected areas have long called for,” Mr Laurie said.

“Such a body will ensure informed policy decisions are made based on scientific evidence. This is something that has been missing in the development of regulation around these industries, and will give communities confidence that decisions are being made on reliable information.

“It is essential that the full impacts of any developments are understood before they proceed. Water and arable land are limited, finite resources that are essential for agriculture, rural communities and our future food security – and if any damage is done to these resources, it will be far too late to try and rectify the situation later.

“The Government also announced incentives for the States to take the findings of this expert committee into account in developing their own regulation around these industries, which is an important step as the majority of legislation around mining and coal seam gas sits with the States.

“The NFF and our members have lobbied for State regulation around mining and coal seam gas to be tightened, rather than another layer of legislation imposed on top by the Federal Government. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction on this.

“We also note that the Government is establishing a high level working group to look at the broader impacts on soil, food production and food security, something we’ve long been lobbying for. We are very pleased to see the Government taking this issue, and our concerns, seriously,” Mr Laurie said.

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