WA laws to protect wine area from mining PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 May 2011 09:40

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The West Australian government is considering adopting legislation to protect the wine-growing region of Margaret River from mining and development.

The proposal comes as WA's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) defended its rejection of LD Operations' planned coal mine on the basis that it was environmentally unacceptable.

 

Although WA Premier Colin Barnett said the government did not support a coal mine being developed near Margaret River, LD Operations still had the right to appeal the decision.
Mr Barnett said the government is currently looking at proposals for legislation which would protect the world-renowned wine growing area similar to laws currently in place for the Swan Valley region.

"The southwest of WA does have quite a number of coal deposits and gas deposits, and I don't think we should rule out that industry," he said on Wednesday.

"But in the prime Margaret River areas, it's the view of the government it should be preserved for the wine production and tourism value of that area."

While LD Operations is still considering whether to appeal the EPA's decision, Mr Barnett said it was unlikely any legislation would be introduced before the appeal process had finished.

He said the potential legislation would not just focus on mining in the region but also urban development and protecting the water supply for irrigation.

"We're not legislating to stop the mining industry. If we legislate, it's to protect the unique, tourist and agricultural characteristics of Margaret River," Mr Barnett said.

Earlier in the week LD Operations criticised the EPA for ignoring critical expert evidence and not providing "full and accurate information" to the environment minister.

"The EPA did not have sufficient information of the necessary quality before it to make an informed determination on the environmental acceptability of the Vasse coal Project," the company said.

"In LD Operations' view, the assessment of the project to date has been deficient and should be revisited."

It also accused the EPA or rushing its decision.

The EPA's chairman Dr Paul Vogel has defended the decision, saying although it usually advises the minister on the basis of a full environmental impact assessment, in this case it was possible for it to deem the proposal as "fundamentally and fatally flawed".

Dr Vogel said this was based on the proponent's referral information, specialist advice sought by the EPA and the EPA's own knowledge and experience in dealing with similar environmental risks and impacts.

"In the EPA's view, this is the case with the Vasse coal proposal," he said.

Environment Minister Bill Marmion said he would carefully consider the EPA's recommendations and any subsequent appeals by LD Operations.

AAP



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