The State Government has issued a blanket ban on coal mining in the Margaret River region, citing “unacceptable” environmental risks.
Mines Minister Norman Moore made the announcement this morning, saying he had terminated all pending applications for coal exploration within a 230 square kilometre radius of the town.
He said the move to cancel coal exploration licences came after previous recommendations from the Environmental Protection Authority that coal mining applications be rejected.
"The Government has now decided that the advice should also be applied to the whole of the coal mineralisation extending through the identified 230-square kilometre zone and applications for coal mining should not be supported," Mr Moore said.
"This decision sends a clear signal to the industry - applications will not be accepted to explore for or mine coal in this area."
He said while there were nine granted mineral titles within 230 square kilometre zone around Margaret River, they would not be given permission to mine coal.
Four coal exploration licences have now been refused.
In February the State Government blocked Vasse Coal Management’s application to start a mine about 15km north-east of the Margaret River township after the EPA recommended refusal.
Current legislation allows the minister to terminate or refuse a mining application if they believe it is in the public interest to do so.
Greens MLC Giz Watson welcomed the decision but said a change to the legislation was needed to offer real certainty to the community.
“It’s not a legislative protection, it’s an announcement from the minister for Mines,” she said.
She said there was nothing to stop the Government from “revisiting” the decision and changing their mind after the next election.
Anti coal mine activist and local chef Ian Parmenter said he is pleased a firm message was being sent to would-be coal miners.
"It’s the best possible news we could have wanted," he said.
"Our chief aim was to fight LD Operations’ bid for a coal mine, but now it looks like coal mining will be banned within a 230km square zone."
Mr Parmenter said there had been major concerns the prospect of coal mining would harm the wine region’s reputation.
Mr Parmenter said he was not worried about the existing coal exploration licences.
"I don’t think anything is going to go ahead," he said.