NSW Minerals Council welcomes state government review of Independent Planning Commission following recent outcomes

IPC in the firing line again

THE NSW Minerals Council is welcoming a state government review of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC).

Issues with the IPC process were highlighted by the recent bungle of the Rix's Creek South approval near Singleton.

The commission sanctioned that proposal, only to rule it invalid a few hours later, before giving it the go-ahead within the next week.

Last month, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen reiterated his call for changes to the NSW planning system after the IPC rejected a new open cut and underground mine in the Bylong Valley.

He also sent a letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Planning Rob Stokes to express his disappointment.

"Given the wording of the determination, the IPC appears to look for any ideological excuse to stifle industry and development in the Upper Hunter," Mr Johnsen said.

"The commission admitted that the [Bylong] project would deliver an estimated $290 million of royalties to the present generation, yet the refusal was a result of the IPC's opinion that it was an unfair impost on future generations.

"The government needs to urgently overhaul the planning system so decisions are made on the basis of fact, not theory.

"Communities in NSW deserve nothing less."

The NSW Minerals Council launched a massive advertising campaign to not only slam the IPC, but to protect jobs and the economy in the wake of the Bylong Valley ruling.

CEO Stephen Galilee said the organisation would support any review of the commission.

"It's an acknowledgement of the strong concerns held by many regarding the role and processes of the IPC within the NSW planning system," he explained.

"On behalf of our member companies, we've been highlighting these issues to the NSW Government for some time.

"We also back the review's broad terms of reference and timeframe.

"It is important that this be comprehensive and it is completed quickly.

"Most importantly, it must be geared to deliver the changes needed to restore confidence in the planning system so that more investment and jobs are not lost to NSW.

"The IPC's current role in the planning system has meant important decisions on jobs and investment have been taken away from the NSW Government and instead left up to an unelected part-time panel that is not bound by NSW Government policy."

Mr Galilee admitted it had led to significant uncertainty and inconsistency in assessment outcomes, costing jobs and investment for NSW.

"The Rix's Creek South approval fiasco followed recent IPC determinations on the Bylong and Dartbrook projects, where the advice of a wide range of departments and agencies including the Department of Planning was ignored, costing NSW over a billion dollars in investment and more than 1200 desperately needed regional jobs," he said.

"The IPC review must therefore also include an investigation into how and why these recent determinations were reached contrary to the advice and recommendations of the Department of Planning and other NSW Government departments and agencies following comprehensive and detailed assessments."