Greens push to keep coal out of Margaret River

The Greens are urging the West Australian government to back its bill to ban coal mining in the Margaret River region.

It comes after the government considered a whole sale ban on mining in the region, and the rejection of LD Operations proposals for exploration in the area.

The miner had put forth an exploration proposal last year which drew the anger of the community, and saw disagreement within the West Australian State Government.

LD Operations initial proposal was rejected by the EPA, which deemed a mine in the region a potential risk to nearby aquifers.

In a release, the EPA stated that "the board considered that there is likely to be significant impacts, or risks, from the proposal on the Leederville and Sues Aquifers, and on significant environmental values, including the social surrounds of theMargaret River region, which these aquifers support.

"Even though some of the significant impacts, or risks, may be presented as being manageable because of their low probability of occurring, the environmental consequences of some low probability event may be so serious, widespread or irreversible that the proposal, taken as a whole, on balance, presents unacceptable risks to important environmental values, and thus makes the proposal environmentally unacceptable."

WA Premier Colin Barnett supported the decision, saying that despite the fact that the mine was never appropriate the Government ensured that due process was followed.

However LD Operations quickly appealed the decision, with managing director Peter Ross stating “we are still quite confused, it's a report that really doesn't highlight anything that we believe justifies the decision," he said.

The miner asked Environmental Minister Bill Marmion to reconsider the EPA’s recommendations that the mine would propose significant environmental and noise pollution risks.

After a long investigation, Marmion knocked back its appeal.

However many in the government still called for a total ban on mining in the wine region.

The member for Western Australia's Margaret River region accused premier Colin Barnett of breaking his promise to protect the area from coal mining.

In May last year WA premier Colin Barnett pushed for the entire region to be declared a no go zone for coal mining, even if miners gain formal approval for operations in the area.

Member for the South West, Adele Farina, said Barnett promised he would bring about legislation to ban mining around the Margaret River region,

Farina claimed that by granting other coal miners exploration licences for the region the government reneged on a promise.

The Government continues to hold the view that the area is now protected because they recently rejected a mining proposal for the area," she said.

"Now, we all know that's not the case, there are other exploration applications and mining applications existing over the area."

Mines minister Norman Moore was one of the main drivers behind stopping the total ban.

Moore has dismissed the push that mining in the region is unwelcome,  stating that it was merely a coincidence the two mines in the Margaret River region were rejected, telling the AFR new planning zones are not a given.

"I am not sure that having different planning zones will necessarily give you the outcome that you want."

Now the Greens are pushing for the government to keep its promise and ban mining.

Greens MP Giz Watson has proposed amendments to the WA Mining Act which would give local governments more power to veto application, the ABC reports.

Watson says the amendments will give more power back to the community.

"I would suggest that a community such as, for example Collie, would never move to amend their town planning scheme to say that they want to prohibit coal mining because at the moment that's what happens in Collie," she said.

"This is about an area where people like the current land use.

"We need a way to say that the local community has the right to say, 'we don't want coal mining' and in my research this is the best way to do it."

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