Studs still vulnerable to mining

THIS is the view from one of the Hunter’s and Australia’s best-known horse studs that will become a reality if a new open-cut coalmine is approved about 500metres away.

And it’s why the region’s thoroughbred breeders say the state government must implement buffers around their studs from coalmines, similar to exclusion zones it announced this week to protect homes, vineyards and the equine industry from new coal seam gas activities.

The images, produced for miner Anglo American as part of its Drayton South project proposal, show the view from part of Darley Woodlands stud near Denman today, and the outlook in five years’ time if the new mine is approved near it and the Coolmore stud.

Darley director Andrew Wiles said it could tolerate the existing Mount Arthur mine 10kilometres away but if Drayton South was approved so close it would consider ending its multimillion-dollar operations in NSW.

‘‘For us it will be one continuous crater from our front doorstep stretching 10kilometres to the north,’’ he said.

‘‘The prospect is totally confronting and completely incompatible with the amenity that is important for us to attract clients and stakeholders to our commercial proposition.’’

An Anglo American spokeswoman said the visual impacts of the Drayton South operation on Darley would be minimal but ‘‘as a measure of good faith we developed working drafts of maps indicating worst-case scenario visual impacts looking from a high and rarely used location on their property’’.

This week, the state government announced two-kilometre exclusion zones from residential areas for coal seam gas, and exclusion zones over the equine industry and vineyards in the Hunter Valley.

‘‘We’re about setting boundaries,’’ Premier Barry O’Farrell said.

‘‘There’s lots of the state well away from people ... well away from critical industry clusters that can and should be developed [for coal seam gas].’’

But so far the government has rejected calls for the same exclusions for open-cut mines.

Mr Wiles said a ‘‘consistent approach’’ was needed to coalmining ‘‘which is equally intrusive, if not more intrusive’’.

In Gloucester, where the Rocky Hill coalmine has been proposed within a few hundred metres of some homes, the Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance said rural communities deserved the same protections from coalmines as their city counterparts were getting  from coal seam gas.

Yesterday, the Premier’s office referred queries to Planning Minister Brad Hazzard, who said the government had implemented the coal seam gas changes because ‘‘it is an evolving industry with which the community have concerns’’.

‘‘As the Planning Minister I am always considering better planning measures and will continue to look at improvements to safeguards in regard to all extraction industries,’’ Mr  Hazzard has said.

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