A survey of Upper Hunter residents by Hunter Research Foundation Centre has found more than half (55%) of people in the Upper Hunter agree that the Hunter region economy should diversify away from reliance on coal mining. Only 23% disagreed.
Bulga electrician and Hunter and Central Rivers Alliance spokesperson Rob McLaughlin said, “The results of this polling indicate that the balance is not right in the Hunter, with our community ready and willing to pursue a positive future for the region that includes diversifying away from mining.
“Diversification is crucial to a strong Hunter Valley but it does mean making some tough decisions, especially when it comes to balancing competing land use.
“The community wants to see our existing industries including horse-breeding, wine-making and tourism protected, and a strong plan developed to build new value-added industries and renewable energy” he said.
Hunter Renewal project coordinator Dan Coleman said, “This polling reflects what we’re hearing from people in the Upper Hunter, that the economy is too heavily reliant on coal mining at the moment and that makes us vulnerable and insecure.
“The expansion of the industry has not come without cost for the people of this region in health impacts, negative social effects and its encroachment on other rural industries.
“What the region needs now is leadership from the NSW Government ensuring that the rural industries of the Upper Hunter thrive and grow.”
The polling was conducted in June by Hunter Research Foundation Centre for Lock the Gate Alliance.