Another open cut coal project, another farming community fighting to stave off the inevitable.
This time its the Bylong Valley perhaps best know today for being the former home of Peter Andrews who developed his land regeneration system known as ‘natural sequence farming’ on ‘Tarwyn Park’.
The valley also gained notoriety during corruption hearings into the granting of exploration licences that covered ‘Cherrydale Park’ a property owned by the now convicted former Labor politician Eddie Obeid and his family.
But the fertile valley and its residents would probably prefer that Bylong was know for its agricultural production, natural landscapes and heritage. According to a heritage review prepared by GML Heritage for the Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) the valley was once home to the largest pure Shorthorn herd in the world. The Lee family, early district pioneers, not only bred cattle they also bred outstanding race horses including Bylong who won the first Australian Jockey Club Metropolitan in Randwich.
Now a Korean company Kepco plans to develop a coal mine, the Bylong Coal Project, capable of producing 6.5 million tonnes of coal/year. A recommendation the project should be approved by the Department of Planning means PAC is now finalising its review having held a public hearing last month. In submissions on the project 14 were received from Bylong residents and of those 12 objected to the mine proceeding.
Given that the project will covers land which is part of the Hunter’s Critical Industry Cluster (CIC) equine the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association has strongly objected to the mine. The Association says the Equine CIC should be protected from mining and should not be arbitrarily excised by the mine proponent or the Department or permanently lost to agricultural/equine land use – in direct contravention of the NSW Government policy.