The refusal by the faceless Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on the Kepco Bylong mining project represents everything that is wrong with the NSW planning system - and still the Planning Minister and NSW Government do nothing.
This refusal is a massive lost opportunity for the local region and in particular the communities of Kandos and Rylstone where the economic injection from the jobs and investment associated with the project are desperately needed.
This refusal comes after more than seven years of assessment, including repeated changes to the assessment processes and requirements during this period, highlighting just how difficult and complicated the current NSW planning system has become.
Despite support from the local community, local MPs, local council, local businesses, and the Department of Planning Infrastructure and Environment which assessed that the project was approvable with conditions, the project has been refused by the delegated authority of the IPC, acting on behalf of the NSW Government but with no accountability to either the government itself or the public.
The role of the IPC demonstrates how the NSW Government has allowed the economic future of regional NSW, and regional communities like Kandos and Rylstone, to be left at the mercy of an unelected and unaccountable body, with no legal obligation to abide by any of the policies of the elected government of the day.
This is an absurd and dangerous economic approach that risks making NSW an international investment laughing stock, losing investment and jobs due to uncertainty on who sets planning policy in NSW - faceless bureaucrats or elected representatives?
Last year NSW lost its ‘number one’ economic title to Victoria, yet we have much needed major projects in the regions being refused by a faceless panel, while the NSW Government stands idly by and lets these opportunities go begging.
The NSW Government cannot simply rely on public infrastructure spending and a possible Sydney housing recovery to secure the future of the NSW economy. More investment is needed across other sectors, including mining projects in the regions who are already reeling from the current drought.
The NSW Government must now acknowledge that the planning system it has created in this state is a major threat to the NSW economy, and take action to ensure NSW is open for business, or more jobs and investment will be lost.
Contact: Hugo Robinson | firstname.lastname@example.org | 0409 758 734 | 02 9274 1419