A group of Aboriginal groups and their supporters is launching legal action over the government’s decision to fast-track development in Warrumbungle Shire under the use of special agreements (MZOs).
“We welcome this move and we hope that it is the first of many in future,” says Munku Redcliffe from the local Wiradjuri, Gunnedah Shire and Yuin Aboriginal people.
The councils argue that the Land Use Zone policies devised by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment represent the largest land grab in recent NSW history, allowing big business interests to tear up land use regulations to push ahead with development projects that may increase car travel distances in communities.
Indigenous community activists launch legal action against NSW government Read more
MZOs, introduced by the previous Baird government, allow councils to bypass lengthy environmental impact assessments and planning and land development controls in exchange for big development fees.
“We simply want our land used in an environmentally responsible way,” says Munku Redcliffe. “No more MZOs.
“The government must also start consulting with the locals of Warrumbungle Shire, particularly with our own residents who are experiencing already high levels of property and household debt, unemployment and lack of adequate housing.”
A spokesperson for Environment and Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton said that under the Mansfield Hydro project agreement with the water authority, water will be diverted from the reservoir into a pipeline network that will then be used in future infrastructure projects.
“The Mansfield dam is currently undergoing an environmental approval process and therefore does not require a major environmental impact statement for the diversion of water. At no stage does the bypass include water being used for local water supplies,” said the spokesperson.