A PROGRAM designed to pour mining royalties back into coal towns through infrastructure and community initiatives will be fairer after an overhaul, the NSW Deputy Premier says.
John Barilaro will visit the Hunter on Wednesday after announcing the Resources for Regions program would hand out an extra $50 million.
Mr Barilaro said the revision would give 24 local councils a base amount of $1 million each before a further $26 million was distributed based on the scale of mining's effect in the area.
Eligible councils include Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Singleton and Upper Hunter as well as Bland, Blayney, Bogan, Broken Hill, Cabonne, Cobar, Gunnedah, Lithgow, Liverpool Plains, Mid-Western Regional, Narrabri, Narromine, Parkes, Orange, Wentworth, Wollondilly and Wollongong.
"The first six rounds of Resources for Regions delivered $295 million to mining related towns for critical infrastructure and programs, and the revamped fund will build on that success by ensuring funding flows to where it is needed most," Mr Barilaro said.
"Every year our vibrant mining towns contribute to the NSW economy, but this success can place extra pressure on local infrastructure or create unique and diverse needs that are specific to mining communities.
"Mining communities and organisations told us what they need and we've received those messages loud and clear, which is why the revamped program will provide funding for a wider range of projects and make it easier for councils to secure funding."
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said the changes would help create jobs and drive growth.
"Knowing how much funding will be available and having the flexibility to work within that funding envelope will allow councils to confidently put forward projects that best support our local communities in Upper Hunter," Mr Johnsen said.
The changes come three years after Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the fund "should be wound up" if an audit uncovered politics had played a role in how its cash was allocated.
Singleton Council, where Mr Barilaro is visiting on Wednesday, praised the changes and had already tasked staff with examining possible projects to fund with the allocation.
The Singleton local government area is the top contributor of mining royalties in the state, mayor Su Moore said, sending an average $340 million into NSW Treasury coffers.
"Reforms to the Resources for Regions funding program have been at the top of our advocacy agenda for some time, and I have been working to take advantage of any opportunity to meet with the Deputy Premier to raise this issue," Cr Moore said.
"This is fantastic news for everyone in our local government area and a great response from Mr Barilaro and the Coalition government that they are listening to regional areas."
The council's general manager, Jason Linnane, said he was particularly happy community programs would be eligible as well as infrastructure.
"I'm excited for what this is going to do for our community with a guaranteed funding boost every year for a range of programs that can build on our focus to deliver economic and social outcomes," he said.
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