He was responding to a rally earlier this week by rural and green groups in Sydney’s Macquarie Street that brought the city to a standstill.
“The NSW government will continue to listen and respond to community views in developing the policy to protect strategic agriculture lands for the first time in the state’s history,” Hazzard said.
“There have been lots of opportunities for consultation so far including a stakeholder reference group and public meetings, which ministers attended, and drop-in discussion centres.
“One more step in that process is obviously the expected presence of various groups expressing their views today adjacent to the Parliament.”
For the past eight months, NSW Farmers were involved in the process and were supportive of the approach of mapping and identification of strategic agricultural land and a gateway process, Hazzard said.
But two main planning issues remain. NSW Farmers argue that the independent scientific panel gateway should apply at the exploration stage rather than prior to the development application process. NSW Farmers also believe that there should be no reserve power for the Cabinet to override the scientific panel in any circumstances whatsoever.
“These are issues which the government continues to discuss and I can assure the community we are, for the first time in history, trying to provide a valid process for guaranteeing protection of strategic agricultural lands,” Hazzard said.