March 28, 2012 6:33PM
LEGISLATION to repeal a ban on Uranium Exploration has passed through the NSW Parliament, with MPs in the state's Upper House supporting it by 20 votes to 18.
In February, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the state would be stupid to turn a blind eye to the revenue that uranium mining could generate, announcing his government wanted to repeal a 26-year-old ban on exploration.
The legislation passed through the Legislative Council unamended Today, despite opposition from Greens and Labor MPs.
"This is great news for NSW. We must look for every opportunity to join the resource boom underway in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia," NSW Resources Minister Chris Hartcher said in a statement.
"This is a new area of exploration and a new opportunity to create an industry which will give the NSW economy a real boost.
"Overturning the ban on uranium exploration brings NSW into line with all other states, excluding Victoria.
"This sends a message to potential investors in NSW that we are supportive of resource investment."
Separate legislation would be required to lift the NSW ban on uranium mining.
The NSW Greens and environment groups condemned the passing of the legislation, saying the Government had no mandate for uranium exploration.
"The community does not support uranium mining and, over the coming months, the Government will hear this loud and clear," Greens MP Jamie Parker said.
"The O'Farrell Government did not take this policy to last year's election and the public will be horrified that it has overturned this important socially and environmentally responsible protection."
The Nature Conservation Council, Australian Conservation Foundation and Beyond Nuclear Initiative called for an independent inquiry into uranium mining in NSW.
"Premier O'Farrell has said this is not about mining, but about exploration and gathering evidence, so we trust he will support a full, robust and independent inquiry to examine the adequacy of NSW's regulatory regimes, the experience of uranium mining in other jurisdictions and the views of relevant stakeholders," Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said in a statement.
Chief of the NSW Nature Conservation Council Pepe Clarke said thousands of people had signed a petition calling for the exploration ban to be maintained.
"We urge the Government, Opposition and crossbench MPs to support a full, robust and independent inquiry into the ramifications of opening up NSW to uranium exploration and mining," Mr Clarke said.
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