Hunter Valley Breeding Industry Fears Gas Project

By: Sarah Fortnum
July 4th, 2011

The Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Industry is unhappy about a planned coal seam gas exploration in the area, fearing it will ruin the water supply.

Coal seams in the Upper and Lower Hunter Valley will be targeted by gas companies, where many breeding stables are located.

Members of the racing industry have stressed that previous coal explorations have had negative consequences on water supplies in both Queensland and the United States.

President of the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Wayne Bedggood, is willing people to understand the possible risks to the thoroughbred industry that could arise from the coal seam gas project.

“I’ve actually seen some of the gas wells in action and they’re fairly innocuous to look at from above ground and not as intrusive as the open cut coal mining,” Mr Bedggood said.

“But the problem is it’s what’s going on underneath the ground that you can’t see.

“We have lots of guarantees that the practices that they use are very safe but you still get reports from Queensland where things have gone awry.”

Mr Bedggood believes that should a problem arise, it would be detrimental for the Hunter Valley’s breeding industry.

“We have guarantees that these won’t be interrupted with but time and time again we see situations where it has occurred and that would be catastrophic if we had that situation,” he said.

However, president of Marston, Richard Marston, is confident that the gas and racing industries can work in unison in the Hunter Valley.

“With coal seam gas, the environmental issues are manageable if approached properly,” Mr Marston said.

“In terms of living with coal mines I think the Hunter Valley is unique in the world in that it has an industry such as coal mining very near agriculture and other industries.

“In terms of managing and co-existing this part of the world has tremendous experience in dealing with those kinds of issues.”

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