New laws in WA protect wine region from mining

It could become harder to mine in Western Australia’s Margaret River wine-growing region, as the state government considers new legislation to protect the area.

The WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has already rejected the proposed LD coal mine for being environmentally unacceptable.

Yesterday, residents in the region said the mining company was not listening to community concerns, after it appealed the decision and asked for a more rigorous assessment on the proposal.

The EPA has defended its decision and Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett says while the government did not support the development of a coal mine near the Margaret River, LD Operations still has the right to appeal the decision.

The company is still deciding whether to appeal the decision by the EPA, and Barnett said it is unlikely any legislation would be introduces before the appeal process has ended.

The laws would be similar to those protecting the Swan Valley region, and the premier said they would not be solely focused on mining in the region, but also on urban development and protection of water supply.

"We’re not legislating to stop the mining industry. If we legislate, it’s to protect the unique, tourist and agricultural characteristics of Margaret River," Barnett said.

The state has other areas which are appropriate for mining and companies should focus on those rather than the Margareet River region, according to Barnett.

"The southwest of WA does have quite a number of coal deposits and gas deposits, and I don’t think we should rule out that industry," he said on Wednesday.

"But in the prime Margaret River areas, it’s the view of the government it should be preserved for the wine production and tourism value of that area."

Environment Minister Bill Marmion said he would be carefully considering the EPA’s recommendations and any subsequent appeals by LD Operations.

Margaret River Wine