MINING critics have condemned the Baird Government's promises to halve the time it takes for major mining projects to be assessed and crack down on protesters trespassing on mine sites, labelling them a sop to the industry.
The Greens and the Lock the Gate Alliance said the government was prioritising the interests of coal companies over the concerns of communities.
Premier Mike Baird said at a NSW Mining function on Thursday the government would move to reduce the time it takes to assess a major mine application by about 170 days, by imposing time limits on planning processes.
Planning Minister Pru Goward said on Friday that the changes would establish "a whole-of-government approach" to assessing state significant mining applications "to make sure agencies responsible provide timely advice and feedback".
Lock the Gate Alliance Hunter co-ordinator Steve Phillips said communities threatened by mining projects would be happy for a swifter decision "so long as it was a good one" but mining companies were unwilling to accept decisions that didn't go their way.
"The Minerals Council don't want fast-tracked assessments, they want fast-tracked approvals."
The NSW Minerals Council said mining families and communities "will warmly welcome the Premier's strong demonstration of support for their industry".
The Greens said the changes marked the "complete abandonment" by Liberals of their promise to return planning powers to communities.
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