Proposed mine too dusty for tourists: Drayton

A Hunter Valley mine is attempting to block a tourist development because it will drop too much coal dust onto it.

Drayton mine has said poor air quality from the proposed Drayton South mine will render the site of a $14 million tourist project ‘‘unsuitable’’.

The mine’s nearest neighbour Arrowfield Estate Vineyard’s proposal was ‘‘not in the public interest due to potential air quality effects from the Drayton mine’’, the mine’s legal firm, Sparke Helmore, said in an objection to Muswellbrook Shire Council last August.

The Herald reported that objection which was made public on Friday.

The local council is currently considering a recommendation to approve the 23 tourist cabins and wedding centre at Jerrys Plains, located across the Golden Highway from the proposed Drayton South mine boundary.

The company’s objection to the development includes that for 10 to 15 years, Drayton South may cause dust exceedances up to 20 per cent above Environment Protection Authority guidelines.

In the Hunter New England Health objection to Drayton South, it said Arrowfield would be subject to 102 days of ‘‘exceedances’’ for cumulative PM10 dust per year, compared with the EPA guideline of maximum five exceedances per year.

Drayton also argued the Arrowfield project was ‘‘inconsistent’’ with the Environmental Protection Act requiring ‘‘conservation of natural and artificial resources’’ and the ‘‘social and economic welfare of the community’’.

The Drayton submission has been slammed by environmental groups who have described it as ‘‘outrageous’’, ‘‘unbelievable’’, ‘‘madness’’ and ‘‘ridiculous’’.

‘‘It surprises me that they’ve put this on the public record, considering other public comments about how they’re not going to have any impact on Coolmore [thoroughbred stud],’’ said spokesman for Lock the Gate, Steve Phillips.

NSW Nature Conservation Council chief executive Pepe Clarke said it was ‘‘extraordinarily arrogant’’ of the mine to oppose the tourist development because their proposed mine ‘‘would make that area unliveable’’.

Arrowfield were not available for comment at the time of publication but they did not object to the Drayton South mine, instead highlighting ‘‘deficiencies’’ in its environmental assessment. 

Recently more than 100 local Hunter Valley residents unanimously voted to halt all coal mining expansions and developments surrounding the Upper Hunter town of Jerry’s Plains.

Spokeswoman for the Hunter Communities Network, Bev Smiles at the time said locals are now demanding action.

"There was a call for a moratorium on all coal mining proposals and development applications encircling Jerrys Plains until such time as the cumulative impacts are seriously taken into account," she said.

Last month Australian Mining reported that Hunter Valley locals and environmentalists feared the continued expansion of coal mines in the area would damage the Hunter River, debilitate the region’s farming sector and hamper future growth of the local tourism industry.

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