New polling released by Lock the Gate today reveals a majority of residents in Muswellbrook and Singleton believe strategic farmland mapped as critical for horse-breeding or wine-growing in the Hunter Valley should be off-limits to coal mining, just as the Independent Planning Commission is considering a new coal mine that would open-cut strategic farmland in the secluded Bylong Valley.
Lock the Gate commissioned polling of 253 residents in Singleton and Muswellbrook and more than 60% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: “Farmland mapped as critical for horse-breeding or wine-growing in the Hunter Valley should be off-limits to coal mining.”
Lock the Gate spokesperson, Georgina Woods, said the polling results highlight the groundswell of support for balance land use in the Upper Hunter and new measures to protect productive agricultural land from being cut open for coal mining.
“The proposed coal mine in the Bylong Valley will result in the direct disturbance of 400 hectares of biophysical strategic agricultural land and 587 hectares of land mapped as part of the critical industry cluster for the equine industry.
“The Independent Planning Commission’s decision about the Bylong mine must prioritise protecting our productive farmland and water sources. People in the Upper Hunter are looking for balance and the Commission can deliver it.
“The Bylong project crosses a line that must not be crossed. We have never come across a new mine proposal with impacts on agriculture and groundwater as profound as this project would have.”
Last week the NSW Department of Planning and Environment recommended that the destructive Bylong project proceed, despite the Planning Commission's concern about the impact of the mine on water, farmland and heritage.
A public meeting will be held about the project in Mudgee on 7 November.
“A majority of people in Singleton and Muswellbrook understand that there are some places that should be off-limits to mining. Bylong is certainly one of them and we hope the Independent Planning Commission safeguards the strategic farmland of the Bylong Valley and refuses approval for this mine,” said Ms Woods.