Evolutionary or fragmented environmental policy making? coal, power, and agriculture in the Hunter Valley, Australia
Intensified surface mining, power generation, and smelting operations in the Hunter River lowlands, NSW, Australia have posed numerous new environmental management problems. Legislative controls over water, soils, and land use management have been clearly insufficient and remain so. The complex range of environmental changes is challenging government agencies as well as coal developers. While water demands are increasing in the region the proportionally greatest competitors are power generation and irrigation. Comprehensive regional water quality assessment is inadequate and divided between a number of agencies with fragmentary interests. Coal development inquiries signal further controversy over appropriate management solutions and are an ongoing phenomenon in the region. The early 1980s resource boom has been followed by lower rates of economic growth, which have resulted in disparate agency responses to major ongoing environmental questions. While issue attention cycles are often remarkably short in environmental management, matters of water, land, and air quality require intensive and ongoing monitoring and policy development.