Last week I wrote about the importance of giving decision-makers a firsthand look at the practical impacts their grand plans can have on the landscape, whether it's paddocks of subsidised wind turbines and solar panels, new highways and bridges disrupting floodplains, or gas and mining projects threatening food and fibre production.
It's the latter that will no doubt be making headlines today, with a diverse group of people coming together to voice their opposition to Santos and its Narrabri Gas project, which intends to drill almost 1000 coal seam gas (CSG) wells through the Pilliga and Liverpool Plains, endangering precious groundwater aquifers and potentially destroying some of the finest food-producing land in this country.
These people - many of whom have travelled quite a long way - are rightly very concerned about the impact this project will have on the landscape they see outside their front door. And they are taking this view to the steps of NSW Parliament in the expectation of changing what some see as a fait accompli.
When we took Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty to Dunedoo last Thursday, she could hardly believe the sight when we drove over a rise and were greeted by thousands of hectares of glass laid out across prime red loam soils. Her bones shook as we attempted to slowly drive along heavily potholed shire roads, and none of us could quite believe the scale of one proposed project that will fill an entire valley with solar panels.
It is important to give our decision-makers this opportunity to see for themselves the impact of their decisions on our landscape and extend the opportunity to meet with those most affected, as Minister Moriarty did.
But when those in power will not come and see, we need to bring our stories and our voices to them.
Former US President Franklin D Roosevelt once said, "the nation that destroys its soil destroys itself"; we could perhaps add the words "...and the nation that industrialises its soil will be unable to feed itself".
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