Hunter Valley welcomes decision by PAC

Hunter Thoroughbred breeders have welcomed the decision of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission that the economic benefits of the Drayton South mine project do not outweigh the potential demise of the region’s equine industry and that the project is not in the public interest.

Tuesday’s final determination now ends the proposal.

“The PAC determination demonstrates the Government’s new process can protect our strategic agricultural industries, critical industry clusters and the health and welfare of our regional communities,” HTBA Chairman Dr Cameron Collins said.

“It comes at the end of a lengthy process that had the benefit of project specific assessment requirements and reports, public consultations and hearings and independent PAC reviews and assessments that were carefully considered and determined.

“The Upper Hunter is a close and diverse community where all jobs and industries are valued.  This has been a long and stressful process for all involved.  We now look forward to building a sustainable future for our region.  We hope that with better planning communities can be spared unnecessary land use conflicts and the stresses those conflicts impose.

“The PAC reinforces the state, national and international importance of the Hunter Valley’s Thoroughbred Breeding Industry and the integral importance of our industry’s two central players – Coolmore and Darley .  It also recognises that once damage is done to our key international studs, it’s irreversible.

“This is an important milestone.  Without Coolmore and Darley the entire Hunter Thoroughbred Breeding Industry would be at risk.  The PAC’s determination has averted that threat.

The decision reinforces the recommendations of two previous PACs and the Government’s Independent Gateway Panel that a mine in such close proximity to two international studs is an incompatible land use and not in the public interest.

“We are very relieved for our employees, their families, our clients and our community,” Coolmore Australia’s Tom Magnier said.  “It has shown that the process works, and for that we are very grateful.”

“It provides our employees with peace of mind and our industry with confidence to invest in the future,” Darley Managing Director Henry Plumptre said.  “At a time when the thermal coal industry is in structural decline, it is important that we protect and preserve strategic and sustainable industries that will provide long term jobs and the prospects of continued long term regional growth for generations to come.”