Coal Festival community forum

A community forum looking at future opportunities for the Hunter region will be held in Singleton next week as part of the Hunter Coal Festival.

The forum will run from 6-8 pm on the evening of Thursday March 26 at Singleton Diggers and will include a Q&A-type session.

Organisers say the forum aims to encourage community discussion about the future potential of the region. 

Coal Festival chair Peter Eason said while there were frequent ongoing debates on the impacts of mining, the future opportunities that mining creates hasn’t necessarily been the focus. 

“The idea of this event is to engage and draw out creative, positive enthusiasm for future opportunities in the Hunter region,” Eason said.

“We are looking for a discussion that is creative, aimed at promoting the real opportunities for making the best of the region’s significant land and infrastructure assets.

“It’s a debate that the region needs to have.”

A panel of experts from the government, mining, agriculture, energy tourism and academia will be on hand to discuss a number of issues.

“This forum will try to answer how we can make the most of mining infrastructure assets, and how we sculpt and adapt the land to create new opportunities for the sustainable development of our region,” Eason said.

“We are asking community members to bring along their ideas, raise the voice and kick-start the momentum required to shift our focus on, or reliance away from coal mining in this region.

“This is happening to some degree, and it is broadly acknowledged that we are a diverse Valley, but what can we do better?”

Master of ceremonies for the evening will be Garth Russell, local ABC Radio identity and presenter, with speakers including:

  • Joe Clayton, coal industry leader and CEO of SubZero
  • Matthew Newton, Assistant Director Environmental Standards Sustainability Unit, Mineral Resources – NSW Trade and Investment
  • Don Gray, community leader and previous Economic Development Officer for the Singleton Council
  • Dr Gary Ellem, Tom Farrell Institute, University of Newcastle
  • Neil Nelson, Agricultural/NRM Scientist at Neil Nelson Agvice.

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