Energy futures, state planning policies and coal mine contests in rural New South Wales
The United Nations 2015 Climate Change Conference established a framework for keeping global temperature increase “well below” two degrees Celsius through commitments by the parties to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement has implications for the energy policies of all countries, not least major coal exporters like Australia. By contrast, the government's 2015 Energy White Paper lays out the vision for the country's future as a “global energy superpower” dominated by the export of fossil fuels for decades to come. Legislative frameworks around planning, land use, mining, heritage and environment have moved in synchrony with this agenda. Rural landowners in the big coal rich geological basins of Australia are directly impacted by current government policies on energy exports and on domestic supply. This article follows the coal value chain to rural communities in New South Wales where new mines are being built, and analyses the politics of land use, natural resources and energy from the vantage point of landowner engagement with government and corporations in the policy, legislative and regulatory domains. The need for more equitable, democratic and precautionary approaches to energy policy, heritage and environmental planning and agricultural land use is highlighted.
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