New mapping and analysis released by the Hunter Wine Tourism Association and Lock the Gate Alliance today reveals almost 30% of the Hunter Valley’s wine tourism industry critical industry cluster lands are covered by coal exploration licences.
The NSW Government itself holds the titles for almost three quarters of those licences, with mining companies holding the remaining titles.
Notably, a subsidiary of multinational commodity giant Glencore, which last month announced it would cap coal production at current levels, owns three exploration licences that cover Wollombi Brook and the Broke-Fordwich vineyards.
All of the exploration licences identified in the mapping will be due for renewal in the next term of Government.
Hunter Wine Tourism Association Director Stewart Ewen said, “Our industry in the Hunter is a world leader but we have this vast shadow of possible open-cut coal mining hanging over some of our best wine-growing land.
“Wine tourism here is an economic powerhouse - we employ in excess of 2,800 people in the Hunter and bring approximately 2.5 million visitors to the region each year. Last year we saw in excess of $100 million investment in growing our industry.
“Wine tourism adds in excess of $500 million to the regional economy every year.
“Our thriving industry is far too important to Hunter people, economies and communities to put at risk. That’s why we’ve written to the Premier and the Opposition Leader this week calling on them to step in and ban open-cut mining in and around all wine-growing areas in the Hunter.
“They need to act to ensure that global giants like Glencore are not targeting our best wine lands for coal exploration, despite having acknowledged last month that coal is in terminal decline” he said.
Lock the Gate is calling on the NSW Government to prevent a repeat of protracted conflicts like the Drayton South in the Hunter controversy by urgently protecting lands critical to both the horse-breeding and wine-tourism industries with substantial buffers placed around them.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “This new mapping reveals the sharp end of land use conflict in the Upper Hunter and how simple it would be for governments to step in and make key wine-tourism and thoroughbred horse-breeding lands off limits to coal exploration.
“In addition, current coal mining proposals like the Bylong project near Mudgee and the Dartbrook project near Aberdeen which will directly destroy lands mapped as critical to these two crucial industries should not proceed,” she said.