Mayor Lee Watts said that while it was good that the state government is reviewing the impact of mining on local communities, the report was very narrow in its definition of mining affected communities.


“The report only reviewed the impact of mining in local government areas where mining royalties are generated. The report does not assess the impact on the Upper Hunter Shire in any way” she said.


“A growing proportion of our residents work in the mining industry, and as the industry expands, this has placed pressure on the availability and affordability of housing and we are witnessing an increased demand for public services and facilities across the Shire. The town of Aberdeen, within the Shire, is in direct line of sight to major open cut mines at Bengalla and the future Mount Pleasant mines.”


“Another shortcoming in the report is that the working group only reviewed mining activity from the past year. In the coming years, mining activity is expected to intensify, particularly in the Gunnedah basin. This means more heavy vehicles using our roads and bridges and damaging our roads and bridges. Our communities are not compensated for that in anyway. There’s also the issue of increased rail traffic, causing delays for residents and visitors at the Scone level crossing and posing a major threat to public safety. The Rail Overpass issue on the New England Highway in Scone has not yet been resolved.”


Mayor Watts called on the State Government to broaden its definition of “mining affected communities” to truly reflect the impact of one of the Hunter Region’s major industries.


Upper Hunter Shire Council is a member of the Association of Mining Related Councils and will continue to lobby both State and Federal Governments for a fairer distribution of the public revenue generated by mining activity, particularly all of the Upper Hunter, not just Scone, Muswellbrook and Singleton.


“Upper Hunter Shire Council has not had a seat at the table when development impacts and contributions are negotiated, now it seems Council is also being ignored in the Assessment of Mining Affected Areas”. General Manager Daryl Dutton said.


Council will seek a meeting with the Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, to address Council’s concerns.