ENVIRONMENTAL activists are calling for the removal of a NSW Minerals Council representative from the Hunter's Royalties for Rejuvenation expert panel.
The eight-person panel was established by the NSW Government to guide spending from the $25 million Royalties for Rejuvenation fund.
Lock the Gate Alliance says the appointment of Minerals Council's James Barben "interferes with the panel's purpose".
"We're pleased the government is moving swiftly to get the Hunter on the road to renewal, but the coal mining industry already dominates the political and economic landscape in the Hunter," Lock the Gate Alliance's Georgina Woods said.
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The Alliance is calling on NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole to remove the NSW Minerals Council's representative and to promise none of the $25 million goes to coal mining companies.
"The NSW Perrottet Government must ensure industries and communities other than coal mining have space to grow and plan - without the coal lobby breathing down their necks," Ms Woods said.
A spokesperson for Minister Toole told the Newcastle Herald that panel members "represent the interests of the local community, local business, unions, Joint Organisations of Council, industry peak bodies and advocacy groups across the Hunter region".
"The object of the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund is to alleviate economic impacts in coal mining regions before they are impacted by a gradual move away from coal mining, by supporting economic diversification in those regions," the spokesperson said.
In response to the Alliance comments, NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee defended the role of his organisation on the panel.
"Mining is one of the largest drivers of jobs and economic activity in the Hunter, and also the source of the royalties that make up the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund," he said.
"Like others on the panel we also support efforts to strengthen and diversify the Hunter economy."
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