HUNTER councils have called for federal and state government support to unlock mining land across the region for residential and commercial development.
Lake Macquarie Council has identified several former mining areas on the lake's west to reduce the cost of delivering new housing, while Singleton Council has told a federal inquiry its ability to transition from coal and a "single engine economy" relies in part on loosening mining industry control over large parts of the shire to stimulate non-mining jobs.
"Mining buffer lands and remediated mining lands present a large opportunity for agribusiness expansion, however miners are not willing to risk mining approvals to allow development on these sites," Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane said in a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry on regional jobs.
The council has asked for government support to influence the post-mining use of land so that mining companies plan for future "highest and best use" of rehabilitated and buffer land, in consultation with council, the NSW Government and the community.
Singleton shire's dependence on mining for 64 per cent of its gross regional product, and 41 per cent of its jobs, left it vulnerable to shocks and sudden shifts in the industry, and the shire had to prepare for them, Mr Linnane told the inquiry.
Lake Macquarie Council also acknowledged the need to diversify from coal and plan for the future in a submission noting mining and manufacturing's contribution to the city's total economic output dropped from 37 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent by 2017.
"The changes to mining and manufacturing in our city is affecting our economic base, and if we don't support the diversification of our economy, we risk impacting our communities and the future prospects of being able to live and work within our progressive city," the council said.
Read the full story By Joanne McCarthy, published in the Newcastle Herald 8th October 2019