WA coal mining ban sees calls for similar moves in NSW

Western Australia's ban on new coal mining activities in the Margaret River wine region has interest from Hunter Valley groups.

Last week WA mining minister Norman Moore declared there will be no coal mining in the State's Margaret River region.

It came after fierce debate within WA that threatened to split the Barnett led government.

The WA Government has terminated all pending applications for coal exploration within a 230 kilometre square zone.

Moore said it came after the EPA indicated that coal mining, and LD Operations exploration in the region poses "an unacceptable environmental risk", particularly to aquifers.

"The Government has now decided that the advice should also be applied to the whole of the coal mineralisation extending through the identified 230-square kilometre zone and applications for coal exploration or mining should not be supported," he said.

"This decision sends a signal to the industry – applications will not be accepted to explore for or mine coal in this area."

Now the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) in the Hunter Valley says this decision should put pressure on the New South Wales government to take similar action for the wine region.

"The decision of the WA Government to ban coal mining within 230 kilometres of Margaret River shows a foresight other state governments should aspire to," it said.

John Lee, TTF CEO said that "preventing coal exploration will protect the area's character and ensure it remains a drawcard for tourists".

Lee went on to say that NSW should emulate the move.

"The NSW government needs to ensure that the sustainable food and wine tourism activities of the Hunter region are protected in any decision on mining or exploration.

"The potential for short term gains must be balanced against the potential for long term damage to wine and tourism industries.

"It would take decades – or even longer – to recover from any environmental damage caused by a mining mishap," Lee said.

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