Better protections, stronger assessment and more environmental offsets will ensure Sydney’s drinking water supply is safeguarded, following an extensive review by an independent expert panel.
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the NSW Government had accepted all 50 recommendations of the expert panel led by the office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer.
“We want to ensure we have every measure in place to protect Sydney’s water supply for generations to come,” Mr Stokes said.
“We’ve accepted all of the recommendations from the panel and have established an interagency taskforce to implement a detailed action plan throughout this year.
“These actions will improve our existing comprehensive assessment and monitoring of underground coal mining while providing certainty for both Sydney’s water supply and thousands of jobs across NSW – particularly 5,000 workers in the Illawarra.”
The action plan includes:
Ensuring there is a net gain for the metropolitan water supply by requiring more offsetting from mining companies;
· Establishing a new independent expert panel to advise on future mining applications in the catchment;
· Strengthening surface and groundwater monitoring;
· Improving access to and transparency of environmental data;
· Adopting a more stringent approach to the assessment and conditioning of future mining proposals to minimise subsidence impacts;
· Reviewing and updating current and potential future water losses from mining in line with the best available science;
· Introducing a licensing regime to properly account for any water losses; and
· Undertaking further research into mine closure planning to reduce potential long-term impacts.