Canberra: The government of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) announced on Wednesday that it would no longer accept applications for offshore mining and exploration, instituting a ban on the practice.
The ruling seeks to protect beaches along the coast of NSW as well as marine and coastal ecosystems, reports Xinhua news agency.
“NSW has some of the world’s most spectacular coastlines which support local industries and make them a great place to live and visit, and we want that to continue for future generations,” said Paul Toole, deputy premier of NSW and the minister responsible for natural resources.
It would also mean that the controversial Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (PEP 11) proposal is now dead in the water.
The project, which would drill for gas off the coast of Sydney’s most famous beaches, has long been a point of contention for local residents, advocacy groups and local governments.
“After four years of hard work, here’s our fantastic result,” read an announcement from Australian coastal conservation group Save Our Coast.
“This flawed plan (PEP 11) risks devastating our coastal ecosystem, the whale migration route and the rich biodiversity off the coast, our climate, our livelihoods and our way of life,” said the group in a petition that garnered some 80,000 signatures in the lead up to the eventual ban.
The NSW government said that while going forward all commercial projects would be banned from operation, sand mining for the purposes of beach restoration would still be able to go ahead.
Toole said they would also be looking towards onshore coal and gas mining exploration to compensate for the lost access to resources and job creation.
“We’ve unveiled a strategy to grow the local critical minerals and advanced manufacturing sectors… This is another way we are shaping a stronger and more sustainable sector,” he said.