Mines Minister Norman Moore has acted on calls to cancel coal mining applications for the Margaret River region and promised all future applications to explore and mine for coal will be refused.
In a much-anticipated announcement on Tuesday, the Minister responded to official requests from a range of industry bodies, including a joint approach from the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, the Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association, the local Chamber of Commerce and Wine Industry Association to terminate pending applications.
The news was met with swift sighs of relief from long-term anti-coal campaigner Brent Watson and the No Coalition group.
“Holy smoke, it’s over!” Mr Watson emailed supporters.
Gourmand and No Coalition bugle Ian Parmenter also celebrated the Minister’s decision, which fell on the celebrity chef’s birthday.
The Minister’s call affects a 230sqkm area and follows a ruling from the Environmental Protection Authority that coal mining was environmentally and socially unacceptable in the area.
Future applications to mine would be refused on the acknowledged threat to groundwater, Mr Moore said.
“This decision sends a signal to the industry,” the Minister said. “Applications will not be accepted to explore for or mine coal in this area.
“I would emphasise that this decision is based on unique and local circumstances existing only in the Capes region.
“It will provide some future certainty for local residents and landowners without adding unnecessary sovereign risk to the State’s $107 billion resources sector.”
Mr Watson said the announcement seemed like good news, but as the group digested the Minister’s response they would also seek clarification from their lawyers.
“Does this increase our security of tenure or not?” he said. “Because to me it simply seems like the Minister has