Western Australian farmers celebrate bans coal seam exploration at Margaret River

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 1st August 2012

The Western Australian Government has announced a ban on coal exploration and mining in the rich food and wine-growing Margaret River region in the State’s south-west this week.

The Government announced it had terminated all pending applications for coal exploration activities within a 230-square kilometre radius.

A Western Australian Farmers Federation (WA Farmers) spokesman said that farmers welcomed the decision as it dealt with a mining development which WA Farmers did not support.

“We note that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) said the coal mining proposal was an unacceptable risk which raises questions about coal mining outside the 230 square km exclusion zone,” WA Farmers added.

Western Australia’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the decision followed Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advice which indicated coal mining in the area posed an unacceptable environmental risk.

“The Government has now decided that the advice should also be applied to the whole of the coal mineralisation extending through the identified 230-square kilometre zone and applications for coal exploration or mining should not be supported,” Mr Moore said.

“This decision sends a signal to the industry – applications will not be accepted to explore for or mine coal in this area,” he added.

The Margaret River area is famous for its wines, fine food and surfing. Mr Moore said the decision was based on the unique combination of agriculture and tourism.

“I would emphasise that this decision is based on unique and local circumstances existing only in the Capes region. It will provide some future certainty for local residents and landowners without adding unnecessary sovereign risk to the State’s $107 billion resources sector,” Mr Moore said.

The Minister said any future applications for exploration or mining activities for commodities other than coal in the Capes region would be reviewed on their own merits and would be subject to the same rigorous assessments before any approval would be considered.

Politician Troy Buswell, the Member for Vasse, who had pushed to keep coal mining out of the Margaret River region, praised the decision.

“It’s an entirely logical decision which reflects strong local opposition to coal mining in the region and also reflects the EPA’s view that coal mining in that area is too great a risk in the aquifer,” Mr Buswell said.

“This announcement should give the community a high level of comfort that coal mining will not occur either now or into the future in the Capes region,” said Mr Buswell.