An upper house inquiry has called on the NSW government to dump or amend a controversial bill that would prevent the imposition of conditions regulating overseas emissions when local mines are approved.
The committee chaired by Greens MP Cate Faehrmann on Friday released its recommendations regarding the bill, which would also remove an express requirement for authorities to consider “downstream” emissions when considering proposed mining projects.
The report says the draft laws should not be passed and, if they do return to parliament, it must be made clear that authorities aren’t prevented from considering downstream emissions.
Downstream emissions include pollution caused when Australian coal is burned overseas.
Ms Faehrmann says the “overwhelming majority” of 3000 submissions opposed the bill over climate change concerns.
“Some expert witnesses raised concerns that the bill would discourage consent authorities from considering greenhouse gas emissions in making determinations on mining projects and could have a broader impact than intended,” Ms Faehrmann wrote in the report.
“Others from industry were concerned the bill could increase the risk of refusal of mining projects without the power of the consent authority to impose conditions relating to downstream emissions.”
Lock the Gate Alliance on Friday urged the NSW government to scrap the legislation.
“It is crucial that NSW planning authorities remain free to consider the range of environmental and social impacts of development,” spokeswoman Georgina Woods said in a statement.
“The government’s attempt to restrict that freedom with this bill was ham-fisted and politically motivated and the bill needs to be withdrawn.”
Nature Conservation Council chief executive Chris Gambian said the inquiry exposed the bill as “a massive freebie for coal and gas companies”.
“The Berejiklian government’s response to this report will be a test of its commitment to its climate targets and protecting NSW from extreme drought, bushfires and floods that will result from global heating,” Mr Gambian said in a statement.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill to the NSW parliament in October.
It followed the Independent Planning Commission last year imposing overseas emissions conditions on its approval of a coal project near Singleton.
The commission in 2017 rejected another project at Rocky Hill with a judge subsequently stating the coalmine would increase global greenhouse gas emissions at a time when a “rapid and deep decrease” was required.