13th May 2010
The NSW Government has announced this morning that it will prohibit coal mining at the Bickham site in the NSW Upper Hunter Valley. This is following a campaign by the horse industry to alert the government of the potential catastrophic risks to some of our most high profile thoroughbred studs and breeding opeations located near Scone. In addition, the Government has also announced that they will immediately amend the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy to prohibit open-cut mining on the Bickham site permanently.
The main issue against the proposal was the risk to water contamination and drainage mainly on the Pages River and the incompatibility of land use threatening the regions breeding industry which holds the second largest concentration of horse studs in the world.
NSW has the world’s second largest thoroughbred industry injecting an estimated $2.4 billion into the State’s economy each year and pay over $41 billion in State and Federal taxes. Australia’s thoroughbred breeding operations have been concentrated in the Hunter Valley for over 150 years and is recognised at Australia’s thoroughbred breeding capital, sitting alongside Kentucky in the US and Newmarket in the UK as one of the three international Centers of Thoroughbred Breeding Excellence.
The horse industry in the Hunter also supports a network of local industries including the largest equine hospital in the Southern Hemisphere – the Scone Veterinary Hospital; an estimated 200,000 local jobs with more than 70% of all capital expenditure by breeders spent in the region.
The decision follows a strategic assessment of coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley by the Department of Planning as well as a detailed review by the independent Planning Assessment Commission and assistance form a specialist surface water and groundwater experts.
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