An Australian energy company's plans to mine gas on two wine estates in the Hunter Valley would be a 'desecration', local activists say.
AGL Energy has purchased Poole’s Rock vineyard and the adjacent property Yellow Rock Estate as part of its Hunter gas project.
The company claims the agricultural activities currently carried out on these properties, including viticulture, cattle grazing and cropping, will be continued.
‘It is our belief that over time we will demonstrate to the community that our industry is low impact, it is safe, it is clean and that it can coexist alongside farming, wine-making and other agricultural industries,’ AGL Group general manager upstream gas, Mike Moraza, said.
However, local opponents are calling on the government to step in to protect the region.
Graeme Gibson of the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance told Decanter.com.’The coal seam methane industry in the world-acclaimed Hunter Valley vineyards must be stopped.
‘The South Australian government is protecting the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale from this insidious industry. The Western Australian government is protecting the Margaret River similarly. The New South Wales government, prior to the March election this year, committed to protect the Hunter wine industry, but is yet to take any steps along the lines of the other states,’ he added.
The founder of Poole’s Rock, the late David Clarke, was an active anti-coal seam methane gas campaigner.
The sale, says Gibson, ‘desecrates’ his memory and ‘would have him turning in his grave’.
But Moraza defended AGL’s actions. ‘I acknowledge that the late David Clarke, whose family has sold us the Poole’s Rock property, expressed some concerns about the CSG industry in the Hunter.
‘We spoke to David directly about his concerns late last year so we do understand his point of view.’
Written by Rebecca Gibb in Auckland