Up to 4000 people from across the state are staging a noisy rally outside NSW Parliament today, calling for tougher restrictions on coal and coal seam gas mining.
The Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner was shouted at and booed as he tried to reassure the angry crowd the state government would protect agricultural land.
A broad coalition of farmers, rural residents, environmentalists and other activists marched on the Parliament at lunchtime today, banging drums and chanting "country and city united we stand, protect our water, protect our land".
President of the NSW Farmers Association Fiona Simpson told the crowd her group felt betrayed by the state government's proposed guidelines for balancing mining and farming interests, saying it was not what they were promised before the election.
"The draft policy falls far short of what we agreed on, and what the community was promised," she said.
The NSW Farmers Federation originally estimated 10,000 people were making their way to Macquarie Street, but police put the final number of people at the rally closer to 4000.
The crowd includes members of the Country Women's Association, officially joining a march for the first time in the organisation's 90-year history.
"This is much more than tea and scones," said president Elaine Armstrong.
Rural and regional residents came from across the state, including the Hunter, Illawarra, Northern Rivers, Central West.
Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush called on National MPs to "stand tall" and listen to their rural constituents.
"If that means entering into a dispute with your Coalition partners then that is what you ought to do," he said.
Mr Stoner, leader of the NSW Nationals, was last to address the rally and was booed throughout.
"The government is listening to each and every one of you," he said.
As he tried to speak over the melee, Mr Stoner engaged in a short verbal stoush with an angry protester at the front of the stage.
"Shut your mouth mate," he said to more booing.
Other MPs from the Coalition, Labor and the Greens were present at the rally.
AAP reports: Ms Simson accused the government of trying to discredit the diverse group of protesters and said it was far too big an issue to play politics.
"I am not sure what Macquarie Street was thinking they would see out their windows and into this crowd," Ms Simson said.
"But I am telling you what I see is mothers and fathers and women and men and families and country people and city people - all have put their differences aside to come today to rally to protect our land and our water."
Cattle and wheat farmer Victoria Hamilton said her livelihood would be ruined if coal seam gas mining was allowed near her farm in Wee Waa.
"Our son is fifth generation, 30 years old and wants a future," she told AAP.
"If this comes on to our place we won't have a future."
Natrisha Parish - a wheat and barley farmer from Liverpool Plains, in the north-western slopes of NSW - said the state government's draft plan would leave nothing sacred from coal seam gas mining.
She said she feared for the future and health of her two teenage children, who also marched in protest.
"It's very concerning for future generations and for our water, food and our security," Ms Parish said.