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NSW Govt Blocks Coalmine To Protect Hunter Studs
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced her government "will not allow an open-cut mine in the state's upper Hunter Valley to go ahead, deciding instead to protect the local thoroughbred industry," reported The Sydney Morning Herald. Keneally said it was "the first time the NSW government had ever rejected a coalmine application", but noted the Bickham Coal Project near Scone (which would have extracted coal for the next 25 years) has been stopped "due to risks of water contamination in the Pages River & the threat it poses to the region's multibillion-dollar thoroughbred industry". She emphasised: "This decision gives the state's thoroughbred industry the increased certainty it needs to continue to harness the dynamic global market - of which it is a leader. We will not jeopardise the growth of this important Australian export industry. Furthermore, this mine is simply not compatible with the unique rural characteristics of this locality, including the horse-breeding industry." Keneally added the government would amend the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy to "permanently prohibit open-cut mining on the Bickham site". NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the decision was "in keeping with recommendations from the independent Planning Assessment Commission & followed a Department Of Planning assessment".